Here is the news release from Metro. Please read the entire release as it describes some steps that Metro is taking to prevent future assaults on bus operators:
LASD AND METRO SEEK PUBLIC’S HELP FINDING SUSPECT IN CONNECTION WITH VIOLENT ASSAULT ON BUS OPERATOR
Following the brutal assault of a bus operator on her route on Monday, November 17, 2014, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD) and the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) are seeking the public’s assistance to find the suspect and bring him to justice.
Last week’s assault occurred at 10:40 p.m. at the corner of Victory Boulevard and Valley Circle Boulevard in West Hills. The male suspect and a female companion entered the bus while the operator was on a prescribed break and asked for a free ride. When the operator responded that she cannot leave the location for two more minutes, the suspect attacked the operator, beating her with his fists and knees.
“Sheriff’s detectives were able to capture a clear image from on board cameras and used this and other investigative tools to identify the suspect,” said Chief Ronine Anda of LASD Transit Policing Division. “He is Geonanny Falcon, male Hispanic, 24 years old, 5’ 7” tall, weighing about 150 pounds. If you see this man, call 911 and report it. He is unstable, volatile and highly dangerous.”
The operator, 59, suffered minor injuries in the attack and was treated and released from a local hospital. She has been recovering at the home of a relative and is expected to return to duty when she is ready.
“An assault on a Metro operator is an assault on the whole Metro family,” said Metro CEO Art Leahy. “As a former bus operator, myself, I’m determined to do everything we can to make sure the hard-working men and women who drive our buses are safe as well as their passengers.”
Metro has been in the process of a three-pronged strategy to enhance safety on buses focused on engineering, enforcement and education. In terms of engineering, Metro will spend at least $8 million on enhancements on Metro’s 2,000 buses.
“Earlier this year, Metro began installing video monitors on buses with a live feed of passengers boarding and riding in the compartment and we now have more than 60 buses so equipped,” said Metro Executive Director of Transportation Robert Holland. “The advent of monitors has virtually stopped all crimes and assaults against operators and passengers on those buses. Metro is moving aggressively to install monitors on all buses.”
Beginning in December, Metro will conduct a pilot program to equip about 5 percent of the bus fleet with plexiglass barriers to protect bus operators from physical assault.
The LASD Transit Policing Division is conducting a pilot program in which uniformed deputies ride along on targeted lines to improve safety and fare compliance. LASD has opened a satellite office at Metro’s Divison 18 in Carson and Sheriff’s deputies already conduct undercover operations on Metro buses and trains in addition to fare checks.
Metro is committed to giving its employees the tools they need to defuse potentially violent situations and is in the process of identifying a transit-specific training program to help operators manage stress at and away from work.
Although assaults are relatively rare events for an agency that has 350 million annual bus boardings, Metro has experienced a rise in incidents of aggravated assaults against bus operators. In calendar year 2013, there were 17 aggravated assaults against operators. In 2014, through November 23, there have been 28 aggravated assaults. California Penal Code calls for penalties that can result in a term in state prison if convicted of assaulting a bus or train operator.
Metro is a multimodal transportation agency that is really three companies in one: a major operator that transports about 1.5 million boarding passengers on an average weekday on a fleet of 2,000 clean air buses and six rail lines, a major construction agency that oversees many bus, rail, highway and other mobility related building projects, and it is the lead transportation planning and programming agency for Los Angeles County. Overseeing one of the largest public works programs in America, Metro is, literally, changing the urban landscape of the Los Angeles region. Dozens of transit, highway and other mobility projects largely funded by Measure R are under construction or in the planning stages. These include five new rail lines, the I-5 widening and other major projects.
Categories: Policy & Funding