TriMet hiring unarmed Transit Peace Officers to increase security

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KPTV file image(KPTV)
Updated: Jan. 24, 2018 at 4:29 PM PST
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PORTLAND, Ore. (KPTV) - Do you feel safe while riding the MAX? FOX 12 crews hopped on the train this week to find out and asked passengers that very question.

Essentially, every rider FOX 12 spoke with said no.

Now, in a new move from TriMet, “Transit Peace Officers” will be riding the rails. TriMet said it will hire up to 50 unarmed peace officers by 2020 to help look out for riders.

“I have been harassed on the trains several times,” said one MAX rider, Julie Frank.

Anyone who watches the news, knows that countless crime scenes unfold on the rails.

Many Portlanders remember the brutal murders on the MAX that left heartbreak in the Rose City. Last May, three men were stabbed, two of them killed, while riding the MAX.

Unfortunately since then, FOX 12 has brought viewers more stories of violence on the rails.

Although the daily trip makes many passengers feel uneasy, they also said, it’s just part of life.

“We have to go to work to feed our families. It’s not just the homeless, folks get on here, start drinking. I mean, it’s pretty obvious,” said MAX rider, Gary Taylor.

On Wednesday, TriMet entered a partnership with Portland Patrol Inc. Now, TriMet said peace officers will be riding the lines immediately.

TriMet said the new officers will be former police, or military personnel, with in depth de-escalation training.

“The officers, although unarmed, will have a heightened security background and training, they will be able to deescalate the situation,” said Roberta Altstadt with TriMet.

Although the peace officers won’t be armed with guns, TriMet said they could potentially carry stun guns or mace.

The highly trained officers will be looking for disturbances on the trains and will enforce TriMet codes.

Fifteen peace officers will be hired immediately, after two years TriMet hopes that number will rise to 50 officers. The officers won’t be able to make arrests, but they will have a direct line with police.