Crime down 45 percent on SEPTA systems during Q1 2024

April 15, 2024
The decreases include significant drops in aggravated assaults – from 32 to 24 – and robberies – from 102 to 34.

The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) had a 45 percent decrease in serious crimes on the system during the first quarter of 2024 compared to the same period in 2023, according to the agency’s First Quarter 2024 Report released by the SEPTA Transit Police Department. The decreases include significant drops in aggravated assaults – from 32 to 24 – and robberies – from 102 to 34. 

 “We are pleased to see that incidents of violent crime have been consistently down across the system during the past year,” said SEPTA CEO and General Manager Leslie S. Richards. “We are providing about 700,000 passenger trips per day and while serious crimes are extremely rare, we want all of our customers and employees to feel safe when they are traveling on SEPTA.” 

Transit Police are continuing to increase visible patrols across SEPTA’s system – more officers are being strategically deployed on trains, trolleys and buses. SEPTA says that increasing the police presence on vehicles allows officers to engage with more riders and enhance the perception of safety on its systems. 

SEPTA says that recruitment and retention efforts by Transit Police have resulted in sustained growth during four straight quarters – from 196 sworn officers at the end of 2022 to 230 sworn officers at the end of March 2024. 

The agency says it is attracting interest from officers from other departments due to salary adjustments for police. SEPTA will continue to hire more officers and go over the budgeted headcount to bolster its police force. 

“While we still have challenges, I am encouraged by our progress,” said SEPTA Transit Police Chief Charles Lawson. “We have stepped up enforcement of quality-of-life offenses, including fare evasion, drug use and smoking, which are often the subject of customer complaints and can be associated with more serious offenses.” 

SEPTA notes Transit Police reported more than 47,000 code of conduct violations in the first quarter of 2024 – up from approximately 35,000 in 2023. 

Earlier this month, SEPTA unveiled new full-length fare gates at 69th Street Transportation Center to combat fare evasion, which costs the agency approximately $30 to $40 million in annual revenue and can be a precursor to other violations. 

Within the past year, SEPTA launched a new Virtual Patrol Unit – largely staffed by retired law enforcement professionals – to monitor live video feeds and dispatch officers where they are needed. This initiative is maximizing the use of the 30,000 security cameras that are located at stations and on all buses, trains and trolleys. 

SEPTA customers and employees are continuing to use the Transit Watch app to report suspicious activity easily and discretely to police. 

While overall crime on SEPTA is down, the agency reported three homicides in the first quarter. The agency says it remains committed to combating gun violence and Transit Police are targeting illegal gun possession. 

The full First Quarter 2024 Report can be found on SEPTA’s website.