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MTA Police Chief Owen Monaghan retiring on Jan. 5

Owen Monaghan is seen at his NYPD retirement

Owen Monaghan is seen at his NYPD retirement ceremony in 2015. He joined the MTA that year. Credit: Jeff Bachner

The chief of the MTA Police has announced his retirement and will leave his post Jan. 5, the agency's CEO said in a letter to the board.

Owen Monaghan, 60, who has led the MTA's police force since February 2017, sent a message to colleagues this week announcing he was ending his 38-year law enforcement career, officials confirmed Wednesday.

For the past three years, Monaghan, who lives in Islip and is originally from Crown Heights, oversaw the 760-member police force that patrols facilities of the Long Island Rail Road, Metro-North Railroad and Staten Island Railway. 

MTA Police reported in January that crime across its jurisdiction, which spans a 5,000 square-mile territory across 14 counties in New York and Connecticut, had fallen to its lowest levels in the department’s 20-year history.

Overall crime fell 13% from 2017, from 271 crimes systemwide to 237. On the LIRR, major felonies fell by 46%, from 24 in 2017 to 13 in 2018, officials said.

Through October 2019, MTA Police reported a systemwide decrease in felonies of 11% as compared with 2018, while on the LIRR, felonies were down 13% in the first 10 months of this year, the agency said

“I am extremely grateful to Chief Monaghan for his decades of dedicated law enforcement service, including the last several years at the MTA keeping our more than eight million daily customers safe," MTA chairman and Chief Executive Officer Patrick Foye said in a statement. "Chief Monaghan’s leadership and deep background in transportation security have been of critical importance for the MTA PD and we wish him all the best in his next chapter.”

Monaghan, who did not respond to requests for comment, joined the agency in 2015 as vice president of security for New York City Transit.

Before joining the MTA, Monaghan spent more than three decades at the NYPD, where he held several senior leadership positions, rising to the rank of assistant chief. He commanded the 13th Precinct of Patrol Borough Brooklyn South and held commanding officer positions at the 109th Precinct and at Transit District 1 and 34.

MTA Police Department chief of operations Joseph McGrann will take over for Monaghan on an interim basis as the agency searches for a permanent replacement, according to Foye.

Monaghan's announcement comes a week after the MTA Board approved a four-year financial plan that includes $249 million to hire 500 police officers — bolstering its ranks by 65 percent — to help address safety issues at LIRR stations.

MTA leaders and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo have pushed for hiring more cops to address growing fare evasion, homelessness, and assaults on agency employees working in subways and buses, which are currently patrolled by members of the NYPD's Transit Bureau.

But opponents have questioned the expenditure, which comes as crime has fallen throughout the MTA system, and as the agency faces deficits that could reach nearly a half-billion dollars by 2023. Some commuter and financial watchdogs have suggested the money would be better spent on increasing service for the MTA’s booming ridership.

Supporters of the plan contend the MTA's police force has been understaffed for too long, as evidenced by the department's overtime rate — the highest of any MTA agency. The additional cops also will help address growing concerns about commuters' experience at some LIRR stations, including aggressive panhandling and loitering, officials said.

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