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Crimes against TriMet riders drop, but increase against employees

Agency says it will focus on aggravated assaults, harassment of bus drivers.

TRIBUNE FILE PHOTO - TriMet officials said Wednesday, April 27, that crime has dropped on its buses and trains. But, crimes against TriMet employees increased, according to the agency.Crimes against TriMet riders are down sharply, but crimes against TriMet employees are up sharply, the agency reported Wednesday.

The comparisons are based on statistics from 2015, when total rides on buses and rail topped 100.3 million, compared with 2014. Overall crimes reported by riders dropped by 37 percent, from 581 to 366. The 2013 total was 534. Crimes reported by riders on board buses and rail, at stops and stations, dropped from 436 to 259, slightly more than 40 percent. The 2013 total was 442.

For crimes at park-and-ride locations, such as vehicle theft, the total dropped from 145 to 107. The 2013 total was 92.

TriMet officials credit the deployment of officers to places, days and times where the most incidents were reported. Transit police also added a crime analyst so that trends can be identified more quickly.

They also credit greater alertness by riders.

“Our officers ride the system every day, connecting with our mobile community to help educate riders about what they can do to prevent crimes before they occur,” said Transit Police Commander Mike Leloff.

Thefts remain the leading crime reported by riders, but their number dropped from 275 in 2014 to 132 last year. Usually thefts involve items left unattended or items left behind and not submitted to TriMet’s lost and found.

The news was not so good about crimes committed against drivers and other TriMet employees.

The number of crimes against them rose from 28 to 41, the exact total as in 2013.

Employees include supervisors, transit police and others.

Aggravated assaults jumped from 2 to 13, and harassment/menacing from 6 to 16. Bus drivers were affected in 17 of the 29 crimes.

TriMet’s executive director for safety and security, Harry Saporta, said the agency will focus on how to protect employees better.

“We are taking a three-pronged approach to target aggressive behavior through enforcement, training and public outreach,” Saporta said. “We also will engage our employees in helping find solutions. I will lead a new continuous improvement team made up of operators, supervisors and Transit Police to focus on efforts to increase the safety of our employees.”

As for where crimes were reported in 2015:

Rail lines: Gresham, 13; Eastside, 41; Lloyd Center, 14; Downtown, 14; Beaverton, 40; Hillsboro, 17; Red line to airport, 7; Yellow line, 9; Green line, 16; Orange line, 3. The Orange line began service on Sept. 12. Crimes went up by one on the Red line, and four in Beaverton, which is served by the Red and Blue lines.

No crimes were reported on the WES Commuter Rail between Wilsonville and Beaverton.

Four bus routes reported more than 10 crimes in 2015. They are Line 72, Killingsworth-82nd, 18; Line 4, Division-Fessenden, 15; Line 12, Barbur-Sandy, 13; Line 57, TV Highway-Forest Grove, 12.

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