Police to increase presence on CTA during busy holiday shopping season

More officers will be patrolling downtown business district stations as stores open earlier and close later, Chicago Police Commander Joe Bird said.

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A Chicago Transit Authority bus

Sun-Times file

Chicago police are increasing their presence on trains and buses ahead of the busy holiday shopping season.

More officers will be patrolling downtown business district stations as stores open earlier and close later, Chicago Police Commander Joe Bird told reporters at a news conference Tuesday morning at the Clark and Lake CTA station.

“We want to have a great holiday season, there’s a ton of activities going on in the city. We’re gonna be on the platforms, we’re gonna be in the stations and we just want to make sure it’s a great season for everybody,” Bird said. “There are more officers out there for the season.”

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CTA leadership has come under scrutiny in recent months for a steady stream of violent crime that has left some riders afraid to ride CTA buses and trains.

A Sun-Times analysis this year found that the number of violent crimes on the L and buses has risen to levels not seen in more than a decade. Through July 19, 488 attacks had been reported on the transit system — the most since 533 during the same period in 2011.

But Bird said violent crime was down 17% so far this month on the CTA, compared with the same time last year, adding that it’s the third consecutive month that crime has gone down. He touted an increased police presence and the addition of canine officers as reasons for the decline in recent months.

Bird said he knows residents want to feel safe on public transportation, so he’s asked his officers to engage with the public. “If you see an officer, you see a CTA security guard, just say hello,” he said.

He also asked the public to report anything suspicious to the authorities.

“If something doesn’t seem right, please report it to the police,” Bird said.

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