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Chicago police to deploy SWAT officers onto city's transit system

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Lolly Bowean
Chicago Tribune

CHICAGO — Starting Friday, there will be more Chicago police officers patrolling Chicago Transit Authority train lines after a deadly shooting in a pedestrian tunnel left one person dead and two others wounded, officials said.

And next week, Chicago police will join CTA officials in unveiling a new safety plan aimed at tackling violence and crime.

But until that new, comprehensive safety plan is implemented, the new Bureau of Counterterrorism and Special Operations’ public transportation unit will monitor the train lines to ensure passengers are safe, interim police Superintendent Charlie Beck said.

“Starting today we are putting additional police resources onto the train lines including SWAT officers,” Beck said at a news conference where he stood with Mayor Lori Lightfoot. “Not SWAT officers in full tactical gear but SWAT officers that are the best and the brightest of my police officers to make sure the trains are safe.”

Reports of serious crimes on the CTA rail system doubled from 2015 through 2018 even as ridership declined and incidents of serious crime rose only slightly citywide, according to a Tribune investigation last year. Serious crimes range from pickpocketing to robbery to sexual assault. The arrest rate for such crimes on the CTA fell during the same period, despite the presence of tens of thousands of security cameras on the system.

Earlier this week, a 24-year-old man was killed, a second man was shot in the head and arm, and a 19-year-old was shot in the lower back during a confrontation in the underground tunnel that connects the Red and Blue line Jackson stop.

Police have charged Torrez D. Cathery, 23, with first-degree murder and aggravated battery in connection to that shooting.

Earlier this month, a 26-year-old musician was stabbed on Feb. 4 at the Red Line Jackson station by a woman who said his guitar music was giving her a headache. A day later, a man was shot during a robbery on the Blue Line at the UIC-Halsted stop.

“As everyone knows, 1.6 million Chicagoans ride the transportation system every day, and all of us need to feel safe,” Beck said. “And young people that ride the transportation system need to know that they will not be victims of crime, that they will be safe.”