As part of its continued efforts to enhance the security of riders and its employees, the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) yesterday announced the deployment of its newly contracted K-9 teams.
The deployment of the K-9 teams is the latest initiative announced in support of CTA’s “Meeting the Moment: Transforming CTA’s Post-Pandemic Future” – a multi-pronged Action Plan for improving rider experiences to ensure that public transportation is the first choice of travel throughout the region.
The first dozen K-9 teams will be deployed across the CTA rail system beginning September 2 and over the weekend. Additional K-9 teams will be added to the deployment schedule through October, following the completion of training. These are the first of up to 50 canine teams the agency has requested as part of its contract with Action K-9. Each team will consist of two, unarmed guards with valid canine handler licenses, plus a canine.
As part of the “Meeting the Moment” action plan, CTA has been developing new ways to target fare theft and prevent fare evasion before it might lead to other illicit activities. In addition to investing in tall ADA fare gates, K-9 teams will help deter fare evasion, as well as assist with conducting routine patrols of stations and reporting any suspicious or criminal activities. These new K-9 teams will add to the approximately 300 unarmed guards scheduled to patrol the rail system daily and tasked with educating and reminding customers of the rules of conduct for traveling on CTA.
The use of unarmed guards is not a replacement, but a supplement for law enforcement on CTA, which is provided by the Chicago Police Department.
Both the unarmed guards and the K-9 teams will be strategically deployed across the CTA’s rail system, including conducting missions at stations along the heavily traveled Red and Blue lines, which operate 24/7 and have seen a recent uptick in crimes and unruly behavior. K-9 guards are used in a wide variety of public- and private-sector settings. K-9 teams are also common in transportation settings, including commercial aviation, passenger rail and public transit
CTA awarded an 18-month contract to Action K-9 in August, valued at $30.9 million, and will provide up to 100 unarmed guards and 50 canines per day, plus supervision and supporting equipment. This contract is being paid for with funds from the annual operating budget.