In response to gangs of young punks storming Chicago Transit Authority buses, attacking passengers and stealing their cell phones, Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Wednesday announced plans to hire 50 police officers to patrol El stations and bus stops.
The new cops will come from the class now entering the police academy and begin work in the spring of 2012, after six months of intensive training. The CTA will pay $10 million for the extra security.
They will replace a current team of 60 part-time officers, which currently cost the CTA $9.7 million, and will supplement the 1,500 additional surveillance cameras being installed by year's end and the current public transit unit under McCarthy's command.
"Adding these fifty full-time officers will increase our visibility and our ability to deter crime where millions of Chicagoans spend their time every day," police Supt. Garry McCarthy said. "We will continue to work with the CTA to ensure that people don’t need to worry about their safety while riding the train or taking the bus."
CTA President Forrest Claypool said he hopes the additional layer of security will help combat "nuisance crimes" like turnstile jumping and panhandling.
"I'm a firm believer that if we can stop these minor incidents when we see them, we will prevent them from becoming and leading to even bigger problems for us," he said.
In two separate incidents in June, teenage mobs boarded buses near the University of Illinois at Chicago. During one attack, a victim was struck multiple times before the thieves ran off with his cell phone.
About 25 minutes later, near South Racine Avenue and West 13th Street, a student said he was sitting on a No. 12 bus when as many as 15 black boys and young men boarded the bus without paying. The student was hit in the back of his head with a glass bottle and was robbed of his iPod.