See something. Say something.

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You see it posted in buses and MAX trains: If you see something, say something. We want to thank the riders of our Line 33 bus who did just that on the morning of Monday, May 13. They saw a man on the bus doing something sexually offensive to the woman seated in front of him. She was unaware until the good Samaritans informed her and the bus operator. Thanks to their willingness to help and the security cameras standard on most buses, our Transit Police officers were able to quickly identify the man. Officers went in hunt of the suspect and within hours had him in custody. Now he’s in Multnomah County jail awaiting trial.

That suspect, Jared Walter, is not a stranger to Transit Police. They had arrested him back in 2009 for cutting the hair of unsuspecting women and putting superglue in women’s hair. He was sentenced to 28 months in prison. Recently Walter was released from prison. Without an order by the court that he could not use public transit as part of his probation, Walter returned to riding TriMet buses until May 13 when those strangers spoke up, alerting his alleged victim and the bus operator.

Why was Walter allowed to ride TriMet again?

Some are asking why TriMet didn’t exclude Walter from ever riding the transit system again following his 2009 offenses. Walter had served his time for the crimes and was out on probation. No part of that probation prohibited him from riding transit or required notifying TriMet of his release. TriMet Code – the “blueprint” for operations, regulations and conduct – limits exclusions to 90 days. The exclusion provisions of the code were originally drafted in 2004 to be consistent with the then-existing court analyses of government restriction upon access to public services. Based on that legal review, exclusions from the TriMet system were limited to a maximum of 90 days.

So what about excluding Walter now?

Walter is currently behind bars awaiting trial. As he was on Post Prison Supervision when he was arrested, he’s under a “no bail hold”, meaning he cannot be released on bail and will remain in jail until trial. Since he is incarcerated, there is no legal reason to issue an exclusion.

What if Walter is convicted and released again?

If Walter is convicted and sentenced to a term in prison, the assistant district attorney who handles TriMet cases will ask the court to impose an order prohibiting Walter from riding public transit as a part of any probationary period. Also, TriMet’s lawyers are currently reviewing developments in the law to determine under what circumstances greater penalties may be imposed.

Still questions remain. Does a transit provider have the legal authority to prohibit access for an unlimited period of time? Do those convicted of a crime lose the right to travel by public transit, even after serving their sentences? Who decides the definition of “public” in public transit?

TriMet Code and excluding riders

TriMet Code, Chapter 28:
Regulations governing conduct on TriMet District property
Fare Violation
expired pass, wrong fare, no fare, etc.
Prohibited Activities on District Transit System
smoking, riding a bike on a platform, excessive noise, etc.

Prohibited Misuse of District Transit System
non-transit use, posting unauthorized signage, possessing an open alcoholic beverage, damaging/defacing district property, etc.

Criminal Activity

Prohibited Risks to District Transit System Security and Order
activation of emergency stop device, trespass on Right of Way, harassment, etc.

Under TriMet Code, riders can be cited or excluded for up to 90 days from the TriMet system for a number of reasons including fare evasion, trespassing in the Right of Way, smoking, riding a bike on a platform, damaging property and a number of other prohibited activities or risks listed in chapter 28 of the code.

When a person is excluded for a prohibited activity or conduct, he or she is entered into a database. Fare enforcers, supervisors and Transit Police officers interact with riders through fare enforcement and patrols on the system. If they encounter a rider without a valid fare or who is violating another provision of the TriMet code, they will run the person’s name against the database. This will let them know if the individual is currently excluded or has a prior history of code violations. If the person is currently excluded, he or she is typically arrested. Bus or rail operators do not enforce the TriMet code. When they encounter someone in violation, they call for a supervisor and/or police.

Police officers will also run the names of those they encounter violating TriMet Code through the criminal database. If an individual has outstanding warrants for criminal behavior, he or she will be arrested, removing them not only from the TriMet system, but from our community.

Reporting suspicious activity

Whether you’re on a bus or train, a downtown sidewalk, in a neighborhood park or at a shopping mall, if you see something that’s not right, say something to a person in charge or call 9-1-1. If you’re on the TriMet system, alert an operator or supervisor, or call police. We provide transit service in 17 local cities and counties. In addition to the Transit Police Division, police in those jurisdictions will and do respond to calls on our system. After all, we are a part of this community and this community belongs to all of us.