The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA) released the results of a safety audit showing serious crimes on the RTA were down 59% for the first six months of 2018, compared with the same period for 2016.
“We wanted to report year-to-date numbers to RTA Trustees, so we looked at the first six months of each year in the audit, and the results are very encouraging,” said Joe Calabrese, RTA CEO/GM. “It’s clear that the hard work RTA Transit Police do to keep our 200,000 daily riders safe is paying off.”
The most dramatic decreases showed robberies down by 80% and thefts down by 51% for the reporting period.
RTA Transit Police Chief John P. Joyce says the dramatic decrease is the payoff for RTA’s investment in safety. “We now have more officers and more visibility. That’s a clear deterrent to would-be criminals,” he said. “We have working video cameras in every bus and train and on every platform, and we fully utilize that technology. If you commit a crime, we’re going to see you and we’re going to arrest you. That’s a strong deterrent.”
The safety audit also indicates a decrease in many “quality of life” crimes — from bad behavior on buses and trains to misdemeanors. For example, disorderly conduct dropped 47% for the reporting period. But because RTA police have placed an increased emphasis on arresting people who are drunk, disorderly, and belligerent (categorized as aggravated disorderly conduct intoxicated or “Aggravated DCI”), that number has increased by 2,100% for the reporting period.
“No one can ever completely prevent people from committing crimes on public transit — that’s a challenge for all major transit systems,” said Chief Joyce. “But we have the people, the technology, the visibility, and excellent response time. We work to make riding RTA safe for all of our riders, every day. That’s our number one priority.”
The RTA Transit Police employ 136 full-time sworn police officers. It is the second largest law enforcement unit in Cuyahoga County and the sixth largest in Ohio. The Transit Police are State of Ohio certified Peace Officers under the auspices of the Ohio Peace Officer Training Act, and have jurisdiction over all of the GCRTA’s operations including bus, paratransit, light rail, heavy rail, and bus rapid transit throughout Cuyahoga County.