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Morning Brief: Metro Policing Contract Extension, Omicron In LA, Buscaino Camping Ban

A blue-tinted Metro train arrives to a transit platform near downtown Los Angeles as an out-of-focus man in a blue shirt walks away from the train.
(Courtesy L.A. Metro)
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Good morning, L.A. It’s Dec. 3.

Metro policing is sticking around and receiving a financial boost. 

In a vote Thursday afternoon, the Los Angeles Metro Board approved a contract extension and funding increase for law enforcement agencies in charge of the transit system’s public safety.

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The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, Los Angeles Police Department, and Long Beach Police Department will remain under contract with the transit agency through December 2022, with an option to extend another six months after that. $75.2 million will also be added to the contract’s budget. 

The motion passed with nine “yes” votes. Councilman Mike Bonin and Supervisor Holly Mitchell abstained.

Transit activists argue that under the current public safety system, police perform poorly and mistreat Metro riders. The funds would be better allotted elsewhere, according to the Alliance for Community Transit-Los Angeles,

A motion was also approved Thursday to allocate $40 million in the 2023 fiscal budget (beginning in July 2022) toward public safety alternatives. It was co-authored by Councilman Mike Bonin, who says it will help the eventual transition away from traditional policing.

"To a transition year next year as some alternatives finally start to come online and law enforcement can start to be scaled back in moderation,” Bonin said.

In 2019, crime bottomed out on the Metro. Then ridership cratered during the pandemic. 

Now, droves of transit users are returning to bus and train lines and the system is gearing up for a new challenge when Super Bowl LVI comes to town in February.

“Remember, we're going into a Superbowl, which we're going to be hosting in February, World Cup, Olympics in 2028,” Sheriff Alex Villanueva said. “We need a world-class transit system... not a mobile homeless shelter."

Five homicides have been reported on public transit in 2021. Just one was reported in 2019. Overall crime, however, remains relatively low on the Metro.

For now, law enforcement will remain on the Metro as alternatives are tested alongside.

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Keep reading for more on what’s happening in L.A., and stay safe out there.

What Else You Need To Know Today

Before You Go...Drawn by BTS, 'ARMY' of Fans Inject Millions of Dollars Into LA Economy

Dozens of people are visible in a photo, waiting in line in a parking lot to get into a restaurant.
A long line of BTS fans line up to eat Korean bbq at BTS fave Ahgassi Gopchang.
(Photo courtesy of Ahgassi Gopchang)

Want to eat like Korean supergroup BTS? Best bring a camping chair because the line outside their favorite L.A. Korean BBQ place is like a queue for their concert tickets — lengthy.

The wait for a table at KBBQ restaurant Ahgassi Gopchang has been up to five hours long ever since BTS began its mini-residency at So-Fi Stadium in Inglewood. And ever since the world’s best-selling music act gave the business a shoutout.

The surge in business is unsurprising. After all, fans traveled from 78 countries to come see the band perform in L.A., according to SoFi Stadium representatives.

So, what to order? Roasted beef intestines, for the real ones.

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