Greater than a dozen janitors and staff who’ve been verbally and bodily attacked at Union Station by homeless people will get higher safety, transit officers mentioned this week.
Amid stress from native officers and the union representing janitors, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Company mentioned it can add safety to Union Station and take extra precautions, together with locking public bogs as janitors clear them whereas posting a guard outdoors.
“It is a good first step,” mentioned Alejandra Valles, chief of employees of SEIU United Service Staff West representing janitors working there. “However it isn’t a repair. It is a long-term drawback that requires long-term options.”
Through the pandemic, the enduring station turned a shelter for homeless women and men, many with critical psychological well being points.
Final week, the Los Angeles Occasions detailed widespread concern amongst low-wage staff on the transit hub who have been usually taunted and threatened whereas working. One janitor was crushed with a mallet within the rest room final 12 months the place homeless women and men usually bathe or use medication.
Within the first two months of this 12 months, violent crime on the station has shot up 94% over the identical interval final 12 months, and property crime has doubled.
“Security stays our No. 1 precedence,” Metro spokesperson David Sotero mentioned in a press release late Thursday. He mentioned the company is working with legislation enforcement, social service suppliers and personal safety “to extend bodily safety at Union Station and discourage felony exercise.”
Metro stations, trains and buses have develop into a refuge for unhoused individuals, and the company has spent tens of millions making an attempt to get them into shelter, however the issue persists. Union Station is floor zero. Its historic concourses are a few of the few public locations with bogs which might be open all night time downtown and sit a couple of mile from skid row, throughout from encampments on overpasses above the 101 Freeway.
Starting on Monday, Metro will confirm patrons have enterprise on the station and kick out anybody partaking in criminal activity. The entrances on the south and north gardens the place homeless individuals usually relaxation shall be closed. Psychological well being groups will deploy on the station, along with beefed up patrols. And all workers will obtain quarterly coaching in deescalating tense and doubtlessly harmful conditions.
LAPD Transit Providers Bureau Deputy Chief Donald Graham wouldn’t say what number of officers are deployed however mentioned that the division has doubled its sources at Union Station and is now working with personal safety to coordinate responses.
On Thursday, the union held a rally in entrance of Union Station the place dozens of janitors chanted “justice for janitors” as they marched beneath the clock tower on the picturesque entrance. Amongst them was Gerardo Mixcoatl, who stopped an assault on his colleague. The union is asking for higher police response time, protocols in life-threatening occasions and different calls for to enhance safety for the employees who clear the station.
Valles, who led the rally with a bullhorn, mentioned that she hopes Metro shall be extra bold and never simply search to “discourage” felony exercise. Quite, she desires a zero-tolerance method for felony exercise that threatens the livelihood of the immigrant workforce she represents and the riders that use the system.
“Nobody ought to must undergo what these important staff are experiencing,” Councilman Kevin de León, a mayoral candidate, advised the heads of Metro, Metrolink and Amtrak in a letter earlier this week. He requested the companies, which collectively handle the situation, to instantly tackle circumstances by including psychological well being groups, amongst different measures. Supervisor Janice Hahn, who’s a Metro Board director, additionally expressed dismay, saying she supported the the employees’ requires elevated safety and higher protocols.
“What is occurring to janitors at Union Station is unacceptable. Nobody ought to must undergo what these important staff are experiencing,” she mentioned.