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Troutdale to rotate officers with TriMet

Council to vote on agreement April 11

TROUTDALE - TriMet should have its own security force to patrol its trains and buses, but the city is willing to share an officer with the agency for the betterment of the city police force.

That was the message the Troutdale City Council sent when it approved an intergovernmental agreement (IGA) to rotate a city officer into TriMet duty, at the regional transportation agency's expense, for a three-year tour of duty. Council members approved the renewable one-year agreement at its March 11 meeting.

While the agreement will not expand the Troutdale Police staff of 24 sworn officers, it will give participating officers experience in a wider range of duties, said Police Chief David Nelson.

'It allows officers to do something different,' Nelson said, adding that several of the force's current positions are specialized duties like gang enforcement and school resource officer roles. Officers must have three years of experience to apply for the duty.

'It's more of a challenge for agencies like ourselves to offer other opportunities. They can do something different for a few years and come back to patrol duty,' he said. 'It gives them some variety in their career.'

Troutdale Officer Jenifer Goss will start with the TriMet division the week of Monday, April 28. Her replacement, Matt Jordan, recently hired from the Gladstone Police Department, will start his training program Monday, March 31, Nelson said.

The IGA has been in place since the 1980s. Troutdale joins a number of Multnomah County and regional agencies, including Gresham, Portland and Beaverton, in the program. The position is fully funded by TriMet Police Services Division, which provides a salary and full benefit package as well as personal equipment. The funding is based on a complex arrangement in which TriMet pays the city of Portland, which then reimburses individual jurisdictions.

While Troutdale Mayor Paul Thalhofer, along with several council members, expressed the belief that TriMet should have a self-contained police force, council unanimously adopted the measure. Concerns about safety on TriMet buses, and particularly its MAX light-rail line, have increased in the wake of sometimes-violent incidents on and around the train in recent months.

'I have some concerns,' Thalhofer said. 'I've always thought TriMet should have its own force. Until they have enough officers, it's not gonna be safe.

'In the interim, I favor what you're doing,' he said to Nelson. 'With salary and benefits paid by TriMet, I think there's quite a bit of value. Officers can learn a good deal about gangs' for example.

Councilor Doug Daoust, a frequent MAX rider, agreed with the mayor's assessment.

'I think they do need more police officers on the MAX, but I support this,' he said.

TriMet recently announced an agreement with the city of Gresham for an expanded eastside patrol for the MAX line. Starting April 1, six Transit Police Division police officers will patrol 12 eastside MAX line stations from Cleveland Avenue to Gateway Transit Center. Two more will be added May 15 and the final two by July 1.

TriMet's Transit Police Division, which utilizes and funds sworn police officers, will hire five new officers, as well as reassign others, for the new precinct.