PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — TriMet announced Wednesday it is reducing existing police contracts by six positions and redirecting additional funds totaling $1.8 million to community-based public safety approaches.
The agency cited the recent deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Atatiana Jefferson and Ahmaud Arbery as a sign to make changes to its operations.
TriMet said in order for it to keep its promise of being “safe and equitable for all,” it would need to undergo a series of immediate, short-term actions to the way it handles the safety of commuters. It also is implementing long-term considerations as part of this year’s budget process. The agency said it will initiate three efforts to inform a reimagined public safety approach:
- Conduct community-wide listening sessions to gather feedback from riders, front-line employees and community members on the best approaches to providing security on the transit system that is free from bias.
- Establish a panel of local and national experts to advise TriMet on national best practices for transit security, equity and community engagement in safety and security.
- Pilot new non-police response resources, such as mobile crisis intervention teams for mental and behavioral health issues.
“We condemn acts of hate—be they deliberate or veiled, explicit, or indirect,” said TriMet General Manager Doug Kelsey in a release. “We hold fast to our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. TriMet’s core value is the safety of all our riders and employees. That includes being safe from racial bias.”
On June 9, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler pledged the city would divert $12 million from the police bureau and other city departments to directly support communities of color. The move would defund three police units including its transit division.