If the Metro Board approves contracts next week, the Long Beach Police Department would be charged with policing the Blue Line inside the city.
The Long Beach Police Department (LBPD) could soon be patrolling the Blue Line inside the city’s boundaries if the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) approves a contract with the department in a vote set for February 23.
Metro has proposed entering into contracts with both the LBPD and the Los Angeles Police Department to partially replaced the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department on certain stints of the rail line. Mayor Robert Garcia, who was elected to be one of the 13 members on Metro’s board of directors in January, has been supportive of the measure, stating that it would allow the LBPD to “control its own destiny” with respect to how the Blue Line is policed in Long Beach.
An agenda item formally supporting the anticipated vote was brought to the council by Eighth District Councilman Al Austin who said that through a local policing initiative response times for calls for service on the Blue Line could be dramatically reduced. Austin said those times are currently between 12-14 minutes, adding they could be cut down to less than five minutes.
LBPD Police Chief Robert Luna said that the city is better prepared to take on such a task as it has already hired two academy classes last year and is poised to do the same this year with the help of Measure A sales-tax revenue. Luna added that his office has heard numerous complaints over the years of riders wishing that his officers were policing the line instead of the LA County Sheriff Deputies.
“To have our own police officers patrolling the rail itself, or on the train itself, and on the platforms and the corridors adjacent only enhances the visibility up and down the primary corridors which I believe, based on my experience, will positively impact not only crime, but the quality of life,” Luna said. “Nobody can patrol or knows their city better than their own local police department.”
If the Metro Board approves the item, Luna’s officers will get that chance. It’s anticipated that through the contracts with LBPD and LAPD that Metro could save up to $20 million per year.
Jason Ruiz covers City Hall and politics for the Long Beach Post. Reach him at [email protected] or @JasonRuiz__LB on Twitter.
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