Security policies hotly debated at TriMet board meeting - KPTV - FOX 12

Security policies hotly debated at TriMet board meeting

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Activists wanting to debate TriMet security policies placing armed police on buses and trains held up a board meeting Wednesday after the board members tried to move past the topic. (KPTV) Activists wanting to debate TriMet security policies placing armed police on buses and trains held up a board meeting Wednesday after the board members tried to move past the topic. (KPTV)
PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

Since the May 26 stabbing attacks on a TriMet MAX train that killed two people and severely wounded a third man, there has been a great deal of concern over security in the public transit system.

That was front and center Wednesday at TriMet's board meeting, where at one point the meeting was halted by a couple of protesters who wouldn't felt that issue and others had not been fully discussed.

Amy Ferrara was aboard the MAX train the day two men were killed and a third almost died after the three tried to intervene after police say Jeremy Christian went on a racist rant, threatening two young women.

Still struggling to speak weeks after witnessing the grisly scene, Ferrara said she is too afraid to ride the MAX again and that the system needs more security.

“I really feel the driver wasn't equipped to handle anything that day on the train,” she said.

There was also criticism that the driver asked dispatch to call 911 instead of calling 911 directly, but TriMet officials contend going through dispatch is the safest fastest way to get help.

“They (drivers) are at the controls of a very large, very heavy vehicle, and so just imagine if their attention is taken away from that to deal with a situation,” TriMet spokesperson Roberta Altstadt explained, adding that dispatchers have a direct line to 911.

While Ferrara told FOX 12 she wasn't sure if TriMet security should be armed or not, others at the meeting said they wanted to see more rider advocates rather than police.

“We need staff on trains and buses but we don't necessarily need more armed police,” David Bouchard with Bus Riders United said.

TriMet has increased security, both armed and unarmed, on the trains and buses, and officials said security is always being evaluated.

Activist Mimi German interrupted and briefly halted the board meeting wanting to talk more about the police presence on board the trains and buses.

“I understand that people are upset, that people are freaked out, that we had the murders that we had,” she said. “I get that the answer to that is not police who are over-armed, who are overzealous, who are over-caffeinated and, for all we know, are over-drugged.”

The activist added the police presence on TriMet was especially frightening to people of color.

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