Every city needs a vibrant public transportation system. Every resident of our city should to be able to safely get to work, school, libraries, stores and more, regardless of whether they own a vehicle. The Kansas City Area Transportation Authority (a.k.a. RideKC) provides the transportation through buses and the streetcar. Our role is to keep public transit safe, and we’re trying to accomplish that through partnerships.
For more than 20 years, dozens of off-duty KCPD officers have worked in a security capacity on Kansas City’s buses and at RideKC transit hubs. We’ve had many off-duty officers also provide security on the Downtown Streetcar since it launched in 2016.
But we took this partnership one step further. Last year, we established a Transit Unit with the KCATA. Two officers are assigned full time to patrol bus stops and routes and respond to any incident involving a KCATA bus. KCATA Chief Executive Officer Robbie Makinen said this when the agreement was formalized: “Our partnership with KCPD has always been strong, and it’s getting stronger.” I concur.
We’re happy to see this partnership keeping riders and drivers safe. The American Public Transportation Association announced KCATA won a Gold Award in its 2017 Bus Safety and Security Excellence Awards in May. Among other things, the award recognized the KCATA-KCPD partnership as an innovative effort. This partnership and other security steps taken by KCATA have resulted in a 47 percent decrease in operator assaults from the prior year.
I’ve also lost track of how many great social media posts we’ve gotten from people riding the Streetcar who are happy the police are there. They often send us pictures they’ve taken with the officers and say how much they appreciate the officers’ presence and positive attitudes.
This partnership with KCATA is just one of many ways we are working with organizations and individuals throughout the area to make our city safer for everyone. I’ll be sharing more on this blog about other partnerships we have and that we are working to develop on to enhance safety in our community.
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