SEPTA announces retirement of Police Chief Thomas Nestel 'effective immediately'

Thomas Nestel has retired as SEPTA's Chief of Police as Philadelphia's public transportation continues to be plagued by crime and violence.

"The safety and security of customers and employees is SEPTA’s top priority, and plans have been put in place to ensure continuity of operations for the Transit Police Department during this transition," SEPTA General Manager and CEO Leslie S. Richards said in an announcement Tuesday morning.

SEPTA says Nestel informed them of his decision to retire within the last week.

Charles Lawson, a SEPTA Police Inspector, will serve as Acting Chief of the SEPTA Transit Police Department. SEPTA says a search for a permanent police chief will begin immediately.

"Despite the change in leadership our commitment to safety and security has not changed, we expect a smooth transition, and we're continuing with all the initiatives that we started recently," SEPTA Spokesperson Andrew Busch said.

The announcement comes after calls for the chief to resign last year amid attacks against SEPTA employees.

"This must stop now," said Transport Workers Union Local 234 boss Willie Brown. "We need a police chief who will attack the problem and not let riders and transit workers be attacked. It’s nothing personal but Chief Nestel needs to go."

Violence on SEPTA lines has continued in recent months, including a member of LGBTQIA community assaulted on train and sex assault on SEPTA’s Broad Street Line.