The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office began a program this week to shuttle employees between their cars and workplaces in downtown Los Angeles amid a series of incidents in which some have been confronted by the public, officials said Thursday.
On Monday, the DA’s office launched the Employee Secure Transport and Escort Program (E-STEP) in an effort to provide free secure transportation for employees assigned to the Civic Center area.
“Security incidents involving aggressive confrontations initiated by members of the public have occurred to our employees assigned in the Civic Center area, while walking between their vehicles or transportation area and the office,” a news release announcing the program said.
The program will be run by the DA’s Bureau of Investigation and will be in effect until permanent transportation services are secured.
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The shuttle service will use centralized pick-up and drop off points at the Hall of Justice at the Civic Center to connect passengers to Union Station and a parking lot in Chinatown. Employees who sign up for the service will be transported in a seven-passenger minivan.
Sworn personnel with the Bureau of Investigation will work in two shifts for each day of the work week: 6:20 a.m. to 8:20 a.m. and 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. The shuttle will stop at each location every 20 minutes.
The transportation service announcement comes as District Attorney George Gascon faces mounting criticism that he has failed to prosecute crime.
“It is unprecedented in the 173-year history of the LA District Attorney’s Office that employees need to be escorted to and from their cars to protect them from random violent attacks,” John McKinney, a prosecutor with the DA’s office who is running to unseat Gascon in 2024, told Fox News Digital in a statement.
“While I applaud George Gascon for taking measures to ensure the safety of DA staff, I blame his policies that have contributed to the need for such extraordinary measures,” he added. “My thoughts also go out to the millions of Los Angelenos who have to travel about the County of Los Angeles without the same protection.”
The move comes as Los Angeles residents have fled public transportation as drug use and violence skyrocket. Serious crimes, such as aggravated assault, murder and rape, on Los Angeles’ trains and buses increased by 24% last year, compared to 2021, while other less-serious crimes increased by 14%, the Los Angeles Daily News reported.
“We don’t even see any business people anymore. We don’t see anybody going to Universal. It’s just people who have no other choice [than] to ride the system, homeless people and drug users,” one unidentified Metro train operator told the Los Angeles Times.
Transit officials have responded to the spikes in crime by pledging $122 million to a program in the last year to deploy 300 ambassadors to public transportation. The ambassadors are unarmed and report crimes while also assisting some passengers.
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Fox News’ Emma Colton contributed to this report.