PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — TriMet and Multnomah County law enforcement leaders announced Tuesday that they are cracking down on crime amid public transit by expanding an agreement to add more staff.
“We are excited to see this relationship grow. We know that this means that we’ll be able to hold more people accountable and make our public transportation system even more secure,” said Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt.
The improved prosecution unit adds Second Deputy District Attorney Megan Irinaga to work misdemeanor and minor felony cases. Irinaga will work alongside Deputy District Attorney Julian Samuels, who has been dedicated to TriMet felony cases since November 2022.
Until now, Samules said he had been handling anywhere between 100-130 cases by himself.
“I’ve seen cases from a far range, including where someone is physically injured on TriMet, as well as cases where TriMet property is being damaged,” he said.
The increased safety and security measures come after a string of violent attacks in and around public transit over the past year, including an alleged bias crime where two Black teens were stabbed on the MAX train last month. In a different incident, a man was accused of biting another man’s face at a MAX platform in January, and in December 2022, a woman was charged with pushing a child onto the light rail tracks.
“It’s a huge help, especially because there are a lot of misdemeanor cases that come in from transit police,” Samuels said.
The $2 million, two-year agreement also provides up to two investigators to help the DA’s office compile information, review referrals and more. It’s a shift that Multnomah County Sheriff Nicole Morrisey O’Donnell says will help build cases and bridge the gap between law enforcement and the DA’s office.
“For the officers and deputies assigned to TriMet and transit police division, these resources will help streamline investigations, while also freeing up our transit police officers to be more visible on our transit system and around our transit locations,” she said.