Letters to the Editor: Metro got rid of its own police department in the 1990s. That was a huge mistake

HOLLYWOOD, CA - JUNE 25: LAPD officers patrol the Metro Hollywood/Highland station at the Metro Hollywood/Highland Station Thursday, June 25, 2020 in Hollywood, CA. The Metro Board of Directors will meet. The agenda includes the consideration of appointing a committee to develop plans for replacing armed transit safety officers with ``smarter and more effective methods of providing public safety.'' (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)
LAPD officers patrol Metro's Hollywood/Highland station on June 25, 2020. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: Your editorial regarding Metro riders needing safer trains and buses is certainly correct. Transit riders are vulnerable while waiting at bus and train stops as well as on board. Disorder on trains and buses lets riders know that no one is specifically responsible or in charge of ensuring their safety.

In the 1990s, Metro's Board of Directors made the unwise political decision to disband the dedicated MTA Transit Police Department in favor of a contractual relationship with the Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

The lack of personnel specifically hired, trained and deployed to work in such an environment has greatly contributed to the problems on L.A.'s transit system discussed recently in The Times. Bigger isn't always better, and the unique needs of a transit agency will not be understood and addressed as well by a general law enforcement agency.

Metro's chief safety officer was quoted in your editorial as being told by law enforcement agencies that "they weren't going to have a bus company tell them how to deploy their resources." That statement clearly sums up the problem.

Sharon Papa, Palos Verdes Estates

The writer is retired chief of the MTA Police Department.


To the editor: As a rider who has commuted to work on Metro since 2015, I have one suggestion that would swiftly clean up the system and make it a joy to use:

Every member of the Metro Board of Directors should be required to take Metro to work every day.

Michael Lucas, Arcadia


To the editor: I suspect trespassing, loitering and vagrancy laws exist in L.A. I've read The Times for many years and I've never read a story wherein punishment-by-music was ever levied against anyone breaking a law, as it appears to be at a Metro subway station where classical music is being blared from the speakers.

The trains and buses are public property, generally self-sustaining by virtue of fares from riders. They exist for all Angelenos. Lately, fare revenues have cratered as hooligans threaten the safety of riders, who have fled.

Is there nothing more than loud music to thwart drug users or criminals from ruining our public transit, forcing people back into their cars? Great, more smog.

This situation is nuts. Laws need to be respected and enforced, period. If we're not careful, the only 2028 Olympic tourists you'll see riding the train will be classical music enthusiasts.

Buz Wolf, Studio City

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.