DETROIT — Safety on public transportation still is a concern for Detroit residents and bus drivers, despite a decline in reported assaults.

There have been 16 assaults on drivers and passengers reported this year as of Nov. 20, transit police chief Ricky Brown told The Detroit News .

That’s down from 23 assaults during the same period last year.

Amalgamated Transit Union Local 26 president Fred Westbrook said he’s counted more than 20 assaults on drivers alone, but agrees that the number of attacks has decreased. The union represents more than 400 Detroit Department of Transportation drivers.

“Crime is one of the hazards of the job,” Westbrook said.

911 calls reporting trouble on buses are typically dispatched to Detroit police, Deputy Chief David LeValley said. Detroit police statistics indicate that officers responded to almost 500 calls on buses from Jan. 1 to Nov. 29. More than 100 of those police runs resulted in a crime report being generated, LeValley said.

Crime is still a concern because there aren’t enough transit police, Westbrook added.

“The transit police have three shifts, so when you break it down, you’re talking about a small number of officers available at any given time,” Westbrook said. “We have more than 200 buses out during peak times, so the number of transit officers isn’t close to enough.”

There are 27 Detroit Transit Police employees assigned to monitor the buses, transit chief Brown said.

“I don’t think there’s a police chief in America who wouldn’t tell you they need more people,” Brown said. “I’m daily looking at grants and other sources to enhance our department. We’d like more people, more scout cars and more up-to-date equipment.”

About 90,000 people ride DDOT buses on weekdays, 51,000 on Saturdays and 34,000 on Sundays.


Information from: The Detroit News, http://detnews.com/