Chicago transit violent crime down as police, security patrols increase

The rate of violent crime on CTA trains continued to drop in 2023, years after it spiked when the pandemic emptied trains of many riders. But the violent crime rate still remained above pre-pandemic levels, a Tribune analysis of Chicago police data shows. And certain stations have drawn a heightened focus from the Chicago Police Department and the CTA, officials with both agencies said, as the platforms and trains nearby saw more instances of violent crime than other parts of the CTA system.

Still, downticks in both violent and nonviolent crime rates on CTA trains are welcome news for the agency, where ridership remains below pre-pandemic levels and where President Dorval Carter has contended with rider complaints about service, safety and conditions on trains and buses.

In recent years Chicago police and the CTA have sent more officers, unarmed security guards and K-9 teams to the train system in an attempt to bring the crime rate down, causing the CTA’s to project it would pay more than double the cost this year that it paid in 2022 for security services. But the perception of safety on the CTA is a key issue for the agency, and whether the crime rate and concerns about crime continue to fall could play a role in ongoing discussions about what the pandemic-era future of Chicago’s public transit should look like.

From January through November, there were about 4.7 violent crimes on the “L” for every million rides, down from 6.2 crimes per million rides during a similar period the year before, the Tribune analysis shows. But in the five years before the pandemic, the rate of violent crimes never topped 2.5 per million rides.

Nonviolent crimes, like pickpocketing, dropped too, reaching levels lower than any since 2015. The rate of nonviolent crimes through November this year was 4.3 per million rides, down from 6.4 during a similar time frame last year.

The numbers come from a Tribune analysis of CTA ridership and crimes reported to Chicago police. The analysis includes only crimes considered serious enough to report to the FBI as “index” crimes, like pickpocketing, robbery and sexual assault. Violent crimes include robberies, homicides and more aggressive assaults and batteries. The analysis focused on crimes reported in the city of Chicago, which covers the majority of the CTA system.

Previous articleJanuary 2024 Issue is NOW ONLINE
Next articleSeoul will increase the number of surveillance cameras using artificial intelligence by 10,000