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CTA union leader voices support for National Guard joining security detail

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(The Center Square) – Only days after one passenger shot and killed another aboard a West Side bus filled with other riders, Chicago Transit Authority union leader Keith Hill says he’s now open to seeing the Illinois National Guard provide security for the long troubled system.

“Since 2017, my call has been for extra security, a presence on the transit system,” Hill told The Center Square. “From a worker standpoint, the workers need to feel safe. When a person rides the system, they should feel safe getting from point A to point B.”

As head of Amalgamated Transit Union 241, Hill said he envisions the plan being similar to the one recently put in place earlier this month by New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, where teams of guard members are stationed at different locations across the city, conducting bag checks for weapons as part of their security detail.

“We have a world class transit system, and the only way people are going to realize that is if they feel safe enough to take this,” Hill said while stressing that the added security would be in addition to the teams of mass transit officers and private security guards already in place to provide security.

“The situation and circumstances have gotten worse over the last year,” he said. “The crimes that we’re seeing on the system, we didn’t see before COVID. We didn’t see this many weapons being brought on the system. We didn’t see people being robbed.”

Hill adds he would also like to see Chicago Mayor Brando Johnson and Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker become more involved in helping passengers to feel safe.

“The only way you’re going to understand the problem is to have us educate you on what the problem is, how to address the problem,” he said. “You can’t go into a fight not knowing what you’re fighting.”

While not advocating for over-policing, Hill said there needs to be a focus on public safety.

“I’m just calling for a presence,” Hill said. “They could be calling for this presence throughout the city. Because right now the city is dealing with a very bad rash of crime.”

Witnesses on the No. 70 bus in Humboldt Park told police the 53-year-old victim was waving a knife at another person when the unknown gunmen opened fire before quickly fleeing the scene.