Residents see increase in crime near Valley Metro light rail stops

Posted at 6:24 PM, Mar 22, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-23 15:57:44-04

You may start to notice more security officers along the light rail tracks throughout the Valley.

According to Adrian Ruiz, the director of safety, security and quality assurance for Valley Metro, said they're bringing in off-duty officer and increasing security

"It's security first," Ruiz said.

The news was greeted with enthusiasm from community leaders who have long been raising concerns about the light rail bringing in transients and drug addicts into their neighborhoods.  

One Valley woman said she has experienced violence on the light rail firsthand.

"I was on the light rail and a drunk was trying to fight my partner in front of my kids," Shayna Jackson said. "There's a lot of drug addicts and alcoholics."

George Immerso, a resident in a senior living facility across the 19th Avenue and Dunlap station, said he was thrilled.  He had attended many community meetings and raised concerns about the increased problems they were having in their community since the light rail stop came in a year ago.

He also said he has also found hypodermic needles littering his backyard several times a week.

"This never happened before the light rail stop," Immerso said.

The gated community, which had always left the gates open during daylight hours had now started keeping them locked 24-hours a day. They had also created a block watch group six months ago, to keep transients out of their community.

"We've had bicycle thefts go up, people going to people's houses.  Some of the older people don't realize they shouldn't be letting people into their homes," said Immerso.

Ruiz said Valley Metro is committed to working with communities to ensure a safe environment. They're also getting ready to launch a campaign to highlight ridership rules of conduct.

From a ban on open containers inside rail cars, to smoking, Ruiz said they wanted to "bring the ride back to riders."

"Putting your feet up on the seats, bringing in a bunch of stuff and taking up more than one seat.  That's actually an ordinance we can write you up for.  Playing a song from your cell phone without your earbuds, it's not citable, but it's a rule," said Ruiz.

She also encouraged passengers to be courteous and give up the designated seats to the disabled and elderly.

Ruiz said additional security would also be visible in the Tempe and Mesa by July.

You can read more about Valley Metro's code of conduct here.

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