More high-profile crimes on LA Metro: What will city leaders do?

Written by Danielle Chiriguayo, produced by Jack Ross

Metro rail trains are seen at Exposition Blvd. and Vermont Ave., Los Angeles, CA. Photo by Amy Ta.

Mayor Karen Bass announced that she’ll add more police officers to trains, buses, and stations across Los Angeles’ Metro transit system. This follows a spike in violent crime on LA Metro, including a passenger who was fatally shot on a bus last Thursday in Commerce, a wrench attack in Encino, and three separate stabbing incidents on May 13. Metro’s 2023 year-end summary says homicides, aggravated assaults, and robberies all increased between 2019 and 2023. 

LA Metro riders can expect a 20% increase in uniformed law enforcement, says Janice Hahn, LA County supervisor and vice chair of the LA Metro Board of Directors. 

Part of that rollout, she explains, is ensuring that the officers are visible. “I want to get these officers out of their squad cars and on the train and the bus. … It’s like a foot beat. I think people need to see them. They need to be interacting as they can and in a dignified and respectful way with those who ride our system.” 

Hahn says the boost should last until stability returns to the system. 

Meanwhile, the LA Metro system is expanding — the new Southeast Gateway line will travel from Artesia to Downtown. Hahn says it's crucial to guarantee safety to operators and current riders, along with new riders. 

About 1 million riders use the LA Metro system daily, and many of those trips have no incidents. Hahn, who says she feels safe riding the system, describes the recent media coverage of violence there as good: “We have to be transparent. We have to urge our leadership at Metro, we have to urge all of us elected officials, to do better.” 

LA Metro faces criticism from community groups, including the Alliance for Community Transit - Los Angeles, which says the agency has spent more than $1 billion on law enforcement and it hasn’t worked. Hahn says the issue isn’t unique to LA and points to other measures the agency has taken to address safety. That includes the mobilization of transit security officers, the LA County Sheriff’s Department, and the LAPD. 

Hahn adds that LA Metro’s unarmed ambassadors are being trained to call the county’s Department of Mental Health.  

“Metro is a transit agency. They're not supposed to be a homeless provider or a mental health provider. They're a transit agency. They're supposed to get people around from where they need to go. But the County of Los Angeles, we have resources as it relates to the unhoused population. We have resources as it relates to mental health. So we want these ambassadors to be able to recognize someone who clearly has a mental health challenge, and before it escalates, put a call into our Department of Mental Health and have them respond.” 



  • Janice Hahn - LA County supervisor and vice chair of the LA Metro Board of Directors