Metra commuter railroad police began increased patrols this week of all train lines, including the Metra Electric mainline trains to University Park and the South Chicago branch.
Those increased patrols will consist of more officers riding on trains, walking station platforms and checking parking lots at stations in suburbs such as Riverdale, Harvey, East Hazel Crest, Homewood and Flossmoor, along with 83rd Street, 87th Street and 91st Street in the South Chicago neighborhood.
Metra CEO Alex Clifford said in a prepared statement the new initiative that began Tuesday is not a direct response to any specific incident.
“Safety is a serious concern in every community, and our riders rely on us to deliver safe and timely transportation for their convenience,” Clifford said. “Our safety procedure is part of our standard operating procedures.”
Mike Gillis, a Metra spokesman, said officers will be spread across seven of the 11 Metra commuter lines that radiate from downtown Chicago to places such as Manhattan, Harvard and Kenosha, Wis., in addition to the Metra Electric line that takes people to various Southeast Side neighborhoods and surrounding suburbs.
He could not say how many more officers would now patrol south suburban train lines and stations.
“This is really meant to benefit all the lines, but it hasn’t been broken down,” Gillis said. “It’s going to be more of a general police presence everywhere.”
Gillis said there is no timetable for how long the police presence will last. “We will continue to do this for as long as we believe it is effective,” he said.
The Metra Police Department consists of more than 100 officers, and Police Chief James Sanford said in a prepared statement those officers did more than 200 foot patrols during a three-day period in May that was a test for the new round of patrols.
“Our officers will be more visible to the ridership,” Sanford said. “We are known for having a low-crime rate on our lines. We want everyone to know that we mean business.”