LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- In a city grappling with a homeless crisis, Metro is not immune.
Drug abuse, assaults and concerning behavior by people suffering with a mental illness can put riders at risk and force others to avoid trains and buses at all.
The total number of "Part 1 crimes" - which includes crimes like assault, burglary, robbery, rape and homicide - from January through May 2023 has remained relatively steady compared to 2022. It's down 5% from 2019.
However, it's important to focus on some specific crimes to better understand this data.
Larcenies, which are thefts, dropped slightly in 2023 from 2022 and are down 45% from 2019. Another notable change is in aggravated assaults. They stayed the same between 2022 and 2023, but are up 72% from before the pandemic.
Elson Trinidad has been riding Metro regularly since 1999. He said some rides are quiet, but others can involve people sleeping on trains, using drugs and yelling.
Trinidad has developed a technique to keep himself safe, but thinks there is a huge disconnect between riders and the Metro Board of Directors. He believes board members don't see what's going on therefore don't really understand.
Metro board member Ara Najarian said he rides the trains about once a month and the buses once a week.
He believes some of the problems happening now go back to the pandemic when Metro was a bit more lenient when it came to enforcing rules, like allowing people to camp out inside stations.
Now that things are back to how they were before the pandemic, Metro is cracking down on issues like fare enforcement.
That's a sentiment echoed by Chief Safety Officer for Metro Gina Osborn, who points to a layered approach to making Metro safe. Programs that include homeless outreach efforts, transit ambassadors, transit security officers and law enforcement partners all work in different areas to tackle problems plaguing Metro.
Osborn also said a feasibility study that includes having a dedicated Metro police force was presented to the board.
An implementation plan is now being crafted to present to board members in January.