TriMet to institute long-term exclusions for serious offenses to help keep riders and employees safe

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Periodic reviews required for exclusions longer than one year

On Wednesday, August 9, TriMet’s Board of Directors approved an ordinance that will give TriMet the ability to issue long-term exclusions, including lifetime exclusions. The ordinance specifically states that long-term exclusions may only be imposed on someone who commits “a serious physical offense” against another person on the TriMet system or “poses a serious threat to TriMet employees and passengers”.

With reported crime on the system low, such exclusions will not be issued often. In TriMet’s reported crime statistics for 2016, only 287 offenses were reported against persons – with multiple offenses possible in a single incident – among the nearly 99 million trips provided.

The new ordinance, which goes into effect in 30 days on September 7, 2017, also will amend the exclusions review process to provide the right to periodic reviews, in addition to an initial review, for any exclusion longer than one year.

Exclusion lengths

Currently under TriMet Code, exclusions are given for fare evasion, disruptive behavior or nuisance issues and typically range from 30 to 90 days, with a maximum of 120 days.  Under the long-term exclusions, a first offense would likely be an exclusion of more than 6 months and up to one year. A second offense could garner an exclusion of more than one year, up to and including a permanent exclusion. The General Manager may issue an exclusion in excess of one year for the first offense if a particular individual poses an immediate and serious threat to the safety of TriMet riders and employees.

Ordinance language defines use

The long-term exclusion ordinance says that the General Manager must find, based on the preponderance of the evidence, that the person committed a serious physical offense that is classified as a felony under Oregon Law.

Also, the General Manager would have the discretion to issue a long-term exclusion if he/she deems the individual poses a serious threat for committing a sexual assault, an assault that resulted in serious injury or death, or used a weapon to injure another person.

The ordinance uses this specific language so that the exclusions would not be reliant on criminal convictions as plea bargaining, the length of trials, and many other factors could impede our ability to protect our riders and operators.

The changes also allow the General Manager to revoke the automatic 10-day stay period immediately following issuance of an exclusion when the individual poses a serious threat.

Right to reviews

Any individual excluded does qualify for an initial exclusion review by a hearings officer. Those excluded for more than one year also have the right to periodic review of the exclusion before a hearings officer once every twelve months. The hearings officer may amend or rescind the exclusion based on specified factors, including evidence that the individual no longer poses a threat to riders and TriMet staff. The hearings officer may consider evidence provided by the excluded individual, as well as any other evidence that the hearings officer finds is relevant. TriMet must also contact any known victims to allow the victim to make a statement concerning the excluded individuals request to modify the exclusion.