Offenses on TriMet trains and buses increased in a year's span, according to the organization's annual crime report for 2017.
The report was released Wednesday, several days shy of the first anniversary of the most violent incident in TriMet history: when three people were stabbed onboard a MAX train. Two of them were killed.
However, TriMet safety and security leaders maintained that the statistics show relatively few riders report experiencing problems.
According to the Transit Police report, there were 1,424 offenses on and near the TriMet system last year. There were 1,247 in 2016.
Of the 2017 offenses, 789 of them–more than half–represent "property" offenses. The most common property offense was theft, like stolen personal belongings, Transit Police leaders said.
In addition, there were 391 "person offenses", which involved either customers or TriMet employees. The most common person offense were assaults against bus operators.
The smallest number of reported offenses came under the "society" category, in which there were 244 offenses reported. An offense against "society" is defined as a crime that wasn't committed directly against a person, like drug possession, officials said.
Another part of the report highlighted a comparison of Portland's safety and security staffing to other U.S. cities of similar size. When it came to police and security presence on public transportation, Portland ranked at the bottom.
The results were released about a month after a survey found nearly half of people in the Portland metro area do not feel there is enough security measures on TriMet trains and buses.
According to Harry Saporta, TriMet's Executive Director of Safety & Security, and Sara Westbrook, the Transit Police Commander, in perspective, the audit showed a low number of reported problems on the TriMet.
"I think the overall picture is good," Westbrook told FOX 12. "It's one criminal offense per 1,000 riders–it's pretty dang good. We'd like it to be better. If you're the one, you'd like it to be better."
Both Westbrook and Saporta said they continuously try to find a balance between the community's desire for more or less security, in addition to what TriMet's leadership believes it should be, and funding.
The two leaders also said they partially attribute the rise in 2017’s offenses to an increase in awareness from riders, as well as additional security staffing.
Among recent efforts to improve safety and security, TriMet began to install new digital surveillance cameras at transit stations and hire additional police officers and security guards. This summer, the organization will unveil a program that allows customers to anonymously send text messages to TriMet authorities to report concerns aboard a bus or a train in real-time.
They will also begin to host community meetings starting in June to get the public's input on all security measures.
"That's why it's important that we not only reduce crime, but people's fear," Westbrook said. "Be present and really try to help create trust. That's the relationship–getting to know each other a little bit, people helping people. It's not just the police out there, we need people to help people - like what happened on that train."
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