From General Manager Wes Kooistra and Interim Chief Rick Grates
This week, we took an important step forward in our effort to create a safer and more welcoming transit system for our riders, our employees, and the communities we serve.
The Safety & Security Action Plan, endorsed Wednesday by the Metropolitan Council, identifies nearly 40 actions we are or will soon be taking to improve public safety on transit.
As we begin carrying out this plan, we are seeking to achieve these and other outcomes:
- Enhanced efforts to hire and retain police officers and Community Service Officers
- The use of contracted security guards at boarding locations with the most calls for service
- Greater utilization of real-time cameras, including on buses and at facilities
- Expanded staff training on mental health, de-escalation and personal safety
- New and expanded partnerships that connect riders in need to services
- Clearer and more prominent communication about respectful behaviors on transit
Together, we believe the actions we are undertaking can materially improve the experience for riders and staff. And we know how important it is to show that progress is being made.
Over the past two years especially, our riders and staff have, at times, encountered unacceptable conditions on transit. We offer this plan as our commitment to do better.
To hold ourselves accountable, we have made the plan available on our website and will be providing quarterly public updates beginning in September. These future updates will include reporting on several key metrics, including crime data.
It is important to note that the Safety & Security Action Plan was not developed in isolation.
Following the killing of George Floyd, the Metropolitan Council embarked on a series of transit safety conversations and convened a work group to examine police practices and policies and solicited feedback from riders and staff.
The recommendations from that group, along with more-recent feedback from staff and others, are reflected in all the actions we are committing to in this plan.
In practice, that means recognizing that public safety is about more than policing – it is about having waiting areas that are clean and well-lighted, providing reliable service, and creating an environment that is free of harassment and physical harm.
And it is about creating a continued dialogue that includes customers, staff, and other stakeholders. Opportunities to share your ideas and concerns will be regularly provided, and you can contact us at any time at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you to all those who shared their perspectives so we could arrive at this important milestone. We are especially grateful to the operators, facilities staff, police officers and riders who have been steadfast amid our recent challenges. And thanks to everyone who engaged in providing feedback and ideas for improvements that are represented in this plan.
More operators, police officers and Community Service Officers are needed to reach plan goals. For more information, visit metrocouncil.org/employment.