The Metropolitan Transportation Authority on Thursday approved a $75.2 million contract with three law enforcement agencies to continue policing its subway lines, buses and trollies.
The contract gives additional funds to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Los Angeles and Long Beach police departments to police their Metro areas 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 the option for an additional six months, through June 2023.
Of the $75.2 million, Los Angeles police will receive about $38.6 million, the Sheriff’s Department $32.8 million and Long Beach police $3.7 million.
The motion also said that all three agencies must have an enforced COVID vaccine mandate for its employees, but it was not yet clear how that would be enforced. The board’s CEO was asked to come back to the board early next year with recommendations on how to implement that.
The vote Tuesday to approve the motion was 9-0, with directors Councilman Mike Bonin and County Supervisor Holly Mitchell abstaining.
The vote came one day after Sheriff Alex Villanueva said on Facebook he believed his department could do a better job at enforcing Metro on its own, recommending that the board end its services with the Los Angeles and Long Beach police departments. The sheriff said he could save $30 million annually if the Sheriff’s Department took over all Metro operations.
He said there have been 38 attacks against Metro employees in LASD-patrolled areas so far this year, compared to 25 last year and 26 in 2019.
Villaneuva’s recommendation to take over the contract entirely was not on the board’s agenda and was not discussed during the Thursday meeting. The sheriff did not speak during the meeting’s public comment.
More funding was needed for the contract due to unplanned expenses for special event coverage and surge operations, according to a Metro staff report. Due to that, more than $100 million was requested to fully fund the contract through June, the staff report said.
The three law enforcement agencies have policed the Metro areas since 2017. Before that, the Sheriff’s Department oversaw all of it.
“We removed the contract from being exclusively the Sheriff’s Department because of complaints about failure to provide public safety,” County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl said, “and decided to keep it more rational and local by contracting with LAPD (and LBPD) for those stations in (those cities).”
About 40 public speakers commented on the Metro law enforcement, with some in support of funding the law enforcement contract and others opposing giving the agencies more funding.
The board also agreed to commit another $40 million for next year’s budget, recommending that Metro look at alternatives to law enforcement to improve public safety in the future. Some of those alternatives include using civilian public safety ambassadors and mental health resources.
“I just don’t think we can keep relying on law enforcement expecting a different outcome,” said County Supervisor Janice Hahn, who serves the Metro board.
That motion was approved 10-0, with director Ara Najarian abstaining.