Three years ago, a fifteen-year-old high school student Brittney Davis was attacked by
three guys on the CTA Green Line Ashland Stop platform. The three guys were able to rob her purse. Chicago police was not able to pursue a further investigation because of the lack of camera for evidence.
The same crime incident could happen anywhere around the CTA.
Three years after Davis’ incident, the CTA has not tightened much. On Jan. 26, 2010, a woman was attacked by three men at the exit of the CTA Brown Line Francisco Stop. Chicago Police said that the three men were on the same train with this woman and followed her out of the train all the way to the exit. The woman was slightly wounded. The police could not identify the suspects. This is already the second crime incident happen at the Francisco stop since the beginning of the year.
From Brittney Davis’ incident to the Francisco stop incident, the crime strategies are almost the same. One starts to wonder how come the same incident happens at the CTA stops over and over throughout years without much improvement.
CTA representative Jeff Wilson said that security cameras were installed along the Brown Line including Francisco Stop shortly after the incident as part of the Brown Line expansion project.
Ald. Dick Mell in the 33rd ward said: “after the incident more police officers were engaged in the security at the stop. There isn’t any other crime since Janurary.”
“This is where the police are focusing on right now,” Mell said.
Do the security cameras help to secure the CTA areas?
Wilson said: “More people and more technology definitely help.”
CTA employee Corey Carr said that security cameras do not help much.
“Criminals just need to have their back facing the camera, they can still snatch the purses,” Carr said.
Accroding to Carr, crimes are performed around CTA areas every day. “Pocket-picking, robbery, sexual assault, fighting…my estimated guess…I see 10 times out of a week,” Carr said.
Pocket-picking is hard to prevent, but robbery and sexual assault can be prevented.
Carr said: “More security can help to prevent those things from happening.”
At most of the CTA subway stops, only one security person works at each stop. The person is in charge of several entrances, exits and the platform, and at the same time, the person has to watch the security camera monitor. Some busy stops, such as both the Blue Line and the Red Line at the Jackson stop have two CTA persons working at the both
of the entraces.
Terri Wolfe, who works as a security guard at the CTA Red Line Division and Clark stop said: “sometimes I am overwhelmed when there are lots of people going in and out from all the directions. Especially this stop, in weekends, people come here for clubbing.
When they are drunk, thefts could take an advantage from them. I can’t watch all of the thefts. It’s too much for me.
DePaul University student James Didier was attacked by several guys when the Brown Line train just pulled into Clark and Lake stop. “He was struggling with his assailant onto the platform,” CBS reported.
Didier said to the CBS that he yelled for help for several minutes, but no one came.
Lack of security does not just happen on the platform but also on the train. Normally, only one crew works on one train. Therefore, the rear cars are isolated in a
way. It gives a chance to the criminals.
According to Chicago.everyblock.com (a city data collection website, its Chicago crime data is sourced from Chicago Police and updated daily), crimes from theft to robbery happen everyday on the CTA trains. CTA security remains unattended. Only occasionally police
patrolling is spotted on the train between some stops.
Everyblock Chicago showed that CTA crimes slightly dropped 2.3 % in 2009 compare to 2008.
CTA public relations person Wanda Taylor said: “We work closely with the police to provide a safer environment to the customers.”
The crime rate for this year is unknown yet. But Wolfe pointed out: “I hear more robbery complaints because the weather is getting better.”
The reported CTA crime cases in April increased 24% compare to February. Taylor responded that the weather change could cause people go out more often, and CTA is working with the police to reduce the crime.
The crime rate also depends on the work attitude with the security guards. According to Wolfe, because of the weather change, security guards are no longer allowed to sit in the station booth.
CTA security guard Rickey Neal was spotted working actively at Red Line 63rd Stop at 12:15 a.m. on April 17th. Most of the time, he stood at the ticket people helping the customers with the ticket machine. Every 45 minutes he did rounds in the stop.
CTA security guard Darrel Hampton, who works at the Red Line Harrison stop said that he is very aware of customers who travel alone at night.
“If someone went down (to the platform) alone at night, I will follow…to make sure that person is safe.” He said.
However, not every security guard follows the rule.
CTA security guard Edward Cole was found talking with two females outside of the Red Line Garfield entrance at 12:59 a.m. on April 17 for 10 minutes until the reporter requested to interview him.
Cole said: “With the minimum wage they pay me, this is how much I can do.”
CTA security guard Shavona Woodards who works at the Red Line 47th Stop was observed fixing her nails at work at 1:30 a.m. on April 17th.
Two security companies are in charge of the CTA security guards. One is Securitas, the other is Star Security. They both claimed that they are not authorized to talk to the press about CTA.
Not only the CTA security guards are not well trained, they are not also equipped. Some security guards are equipped with radios, some are not. Security guard Rickey Neal worked at both the CTA Red Line and the Green Line stops. Neal does not always have a
“I will say half and half.
Half of the time I do, half of the time I don’t, here at 63rd Red Line.” He said with the radio in his hand. “When I was working at the Green Line, most of the time I didn’t have a radio. Only occasionally I would have it.”
From the Red Line Roosevelt stop toward north to Clybourn stop, none of the security guards had a radio.
“I feel safe holding a radio at work because it helps me to communicate with the security center.” Neal said.
“When an incident is happening, since I don’t have a radio, I feel like I put myself into a vulnerable situation. Not to mention the customers.” Wolfe said.
“I just have to bring my cell phone with me in case I need to call 911,” said Cathy Hampton who works at the Red Line Monroe Stop.
The security guards work mostly in the night shifts and they do not have radios. But CTA’s own employees who work at the stops during the day have radios.
“Maybe the radio won’t have reception underground.” Cathy Hampton said.
However, CTA employee Corey Carr, who works at an underground stop Red Line Clark and Division showed reporter his radio worked just fine underground.
“Yes, CTA workers have radios. But it’s the security companies’ decision whether they their security should have radio or not.” CTA PR Taylor said.
Star Security and Securitas both denied the interview request.
Not only the security guards are lack of management, CTA’s own employees are also having the same problem.
A man who lives in the 33rd Ward said that there was once he saw 6 men jumping over the fence at the Brown Line Kenzie stop, he immediately reported to the CTA worker at the stop. The men described that the CTA worker shrugged and responded that he
will not stop the six men from trespassing.
Wolfe said she had more robbery complaints at Red Line Çlark and Division Stop this month in May. “I didn’t do anything,” she said. “There’s nothing I can do.”
CTA representative Jeff Wilson said that if customer had experience like this, he most appropriate for the customer to do is to call the CTA hotline.
CTA was ranked among the top ten major crime categories in Chicago by Chicago Everyblock (CTA Tattler).