The Metropolitan Transport Authority’s board of directors on Thursday approved a $ 75.2 million contract with three law enforcement agencies to continue policing local subways, buses and trolleys.
The contract provides additional funding to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and the Los Angeles and Long Beach Police Department to their Metro Area Police for the next six months, from January to June. The board also approved a six-month extension of their contract with the three agencies, with an option for an additional six months, until June 2023.
Out of $ 75.2 million, the Los Angeles Police Department will receive $ 38.6 million, the Sheriff’s Department $ 32.8 million and the Long Beach Police Department $ 3.7 million.
The proposal also said all three agencies have a COVID vaccine enforcement mandate for its employees, but it was not yet clear how it would be enforced. The CEO was asked to return to the board early next year with recommendations on how to implement this.
Tuesday’s vote to approve the proposal was 9-0, with council members Mike Bonin and District Superintendent Holly Mitchell abstaining.
The vote came one day after Sheriff Alex Villenueva said on Facebook that he believed his department could do a better job of enforcing Metro itself, and recommended the board end its services with Los Angeles and Long Beach police. The sheriff said he could save $ 30 million a year if the sheriff’s department took over all the metro operations.
He said there have been 38 attacks against Metro workers in areas monitored by the LASD so far this year, compared to 25 last year and 26 in 2019.
Villanova’s recommendation to take over the contract in full was not on the board’s agenda and was not discussed during Thursday’s meeting. The sheriff did not speak during the meeting’s public comment.
Additional funding was needed for the contract due to unplanned expenses for covering special events and surge operations, according to Metro staff report. As a result, more than $ 100 million was requested for full financing of the contract by June, the team report said.
Three law enforcement agencies have been policing the metro areas since 2017. Prior to that, the sheriff’s department had overseen all of this.
“We removed the contract from the sheriff’s office only because of complaints about the lack of public safety,” said District Superintendent Sheila Kohl, “and we decided to keep it more rational and local by contracting with the LAPD (and LBPD) for these stations in (these cities).”
About 40 public spokesmen have commented on Metro’s law enforcement, with some supporting the funding of the law enforcement contract and others opposed providing additional funding to the agencies.
The board also agreed to commit another $ 40 million to next year’s budget, and recommended Metro look into law enforcement alternatives to improve public safety in the future. Some of these alternatives include the use of civilian ambassadors for public safety and mental health resources.
“I just do not think we can continue to rely on law enforcement in anticipation of a different outcome,” said County Superintendent Janice Hahn, who serves on the Metro Council.
This offer was approved 10-0, with director Ara Najrian abstaining.