Fewer crimes reported by TriMet riders, but crimes increase agai - KPTV - FOX 12

Fewer crimes reported by TriMet riders, but crimes increase against employees

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PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

New crime data from TriMet shows that crime against passengers is down, but the bad news is that crime against employees is up and some drivers feel TriMet officials aren't doing enough to help them.

In 2014, TriMet employees reported being the victims of 28 crimes. Last year, that number jumped up to 41.

TriMet operators said they want more protection from their employer.

"I've been spit at, and I've had things thrown at me, bottles of water, sodas. You name it, it comes your way."

Bruce Hansen has been driving a TriMet bus for almost 25 years. It's a job he loves, but one that is becoming more dangerous.

Just this month, two TriMet operators have been involved in violent incidents with passengers, including one bus driver getting punched in the face on Southeast 122nd and Powell.

Hansen said driver reports and complaints often fall on deaf ears.

"You report something and you don't hear back from anybody. You get assaulted, you don't hear back from anybody. You feel that what you've done has gone unheard."

TriMet officials said they are very bothered by the spike in violence against operators and they are making improvements.

At Wednesday's meeting, Safety and Security Director Harry Saporta announced they are analyzing new crime stats to figure out where Transit Police are most needed.

They are providing counseling to drivers, forming an improvement team made up of operators and police, and they're reminding the public that attacking an operator is a felony and it won't be tolerated.

There is a $1,000 reward for information about who punched the driver on Powell, but Hansen said it's not enough.

"Just offering a higher reward would get the public more involved when they see it happening."

Hansen said TriMet drivers just don't feel safe.

"It's getting to the point where drivers are considering carrying guns because it's gotten so bad."

TriMet operators are not allowed to carry weapons on the job.

FOX 12 asked Hansen if he thinks the plastic enclosures that some buses have around drivers could help, but he thinks it impairs visibility.

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