The team provides extra presence while helping connect people with social service resources
Carrying backpacks filled with basic provisions to hand out and booklets containing information about social services, TriMet’s Safety Response Team is on the transit system now providing outreach to those who need it. A part of TriMet’s Reimagining Public Safety on Transit efforts, this unarmed team attempts to connect people in and around the system with community-based resources while discouraging inappropriate behavior.
Taking root last September when hiring for the team began, it’s made up of 24 members who work together in smaller groups. They focus on helping people with their needs, whether that’s providing conflict resolution, directing them to community services, giving first aid or reporting serious incidents to emergency responders.
Their first few months were spent becoming familiar with TriMet’s transit system and receiving their initial training on public safety, treating people with fairness and compassion and assessing people’s needs.
Building trust and a safe environment
Members of the Safety Response Team come from diverse backgrounds. Some have multiple master’s degrees, while others have lived experience such as having been houseless at one point.
“The large goal is to make the TriMet system a safer, cleaner, more inclusive place for everybody,” Safety Response Team Field Supervisor Beverly Hermosillo said. “When we meet people who require a little bit more assistance, we try to assess their needs individually and refer them to different resources. We most commonly come into contact with people who suffer from houselessness, mental illness or addiction issues, and we’re referring to places across town, like detox centers.”
Safety Response Team members have a variety of responsibilities:
- Attempt to connect riders in-need to social services
- Create a welcoming, inclusive and safe environment for everyone, including TriMet staff
- Reduce the number of 911 calls for non-emergencies
- Provide emergency supplies to those who need them
Since we began our efforts to Reimagine Public Safety on Transit, we’ve been listening to and working with the community to develop a program that best serves the most people. Between July and November 2020, we received over 13,000 survey responses, supported 300 one-on-one interviews and engaged 271 people in 31 focus groups. The Safety Response Team was one of the outcomes born of these efforts.
TriMet values equity and inclusion, and we emphasize treating everyone with dignity and respect. For the Safety Response Team and others working to make transit a welcoming place, trainings are an important way to help hone skills and improve insights into rider behavior.
Before spring ends, all of our front-line staff and contractors, more than 1,000 employees in total, will have received training in de-escalation. TriMet is also soliciting proposals for community-based trainings. TriMet plans to fund 10-15 of these trainings around cultural humility, supporting non-English-speaking riders, de-escalation and more to continue guiding front-line safety and security staff. This work will enable TriMet to continue making our transit system safer and more welcoming for all.
Adding to the team
TriMet has hundreds of employees who work in and around the system to support operators and riders. Here’s a guide on the different people you may see in and around our stops, station and transit centers.
Safety Response Team: Ride the TriMet system while assisting riders, employees and members of the public. They conduct social service outreach and provide referrals to community-based programs.
Customer Service Representatives: Assist riders, helping them navigate the transit system and use Hop Fastpass™ fare system, while encouraging safe behavior around buses and trains.
Field Supervisors: Assist with TriMet operations, help riders and respond to emergencies.
Customer Safety Officers/Supervisors: Assist riders, enforce TriMet Code and discourage inappropriate or unlawful behavior on the transit system.
Allied Transit Security: Patrol the TriMet system, discourage inappropriate or unlawful behavior and report serious incidents to the police or other emergency responders.
Police Officers: Respond to serious incidents and emergencies, enforce laws and TriMet Code and investigate crimes that happen on the system.
Learn more about the Safety Response Team and all of the TriMet personnel you may see while riding at trimet.org/about/personnel.