GRTC contemplating police officers on certain bus routes

Published: Nov. 23, 2021 at 3:19 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 23, 2021 at 7:53 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Public transit leaders in Richmond are contemplating police on city buses.

“Everybody is at a heightened state of tension,” said Julie Timm, GRTC CEO.

The fallout from the pandemic is spilling onto public transit buses in Richmond. From COVID-19 concerns to mask mandates, the head of GRTC says police officers could be the answer to unruly passengers.

“When we have a chance to be able to work with our emergency responders to get them on our buses in uniform, occasionally,” said Timm.

Tuesday afternoon, GRTC officials went before city council’s public safety committee to address a host of issues.

“I have a lot of feelings for our bus drivers. They do a hell of a good job in this city,” said Reva Trammell, Richmond City Council.

GRTC CEO Julie Timm says the city’s bus service is safe but said they are moving forward with additional de-escalation training for bus drivers and contemplating putting city police officers on some bus routes.

“Doesn’t have to be every bus, every day, all day, but occasionally to build that rapport with our riders and our communities,” said Timm.

Timm says recent events onboard buses - from a recent fatal shooting to other violence - are concerning but rare in Richmond.

GRTC has about 250 bus drivers employed right now, but the organization typically has more than 300 on staff.

“When you’re arguing and fussing or cussing with somebody else, you know, what is the bus driver? The bus driver is not a police officer. He’s not a social worker,” said Trammell.

The shortage is causing the transit service to change bus routes and schedules, which is another point of contention.

“I’m getting so many calls that GRTC is not picking them up on time. They don’t know, you know, the scheduling anymore. They’re changing the schedule,” said Trammell.

GRTC will come back before council in January for an update. NBC12 reached out to RPD about the idea. A spokesperson was unaware of the GRTC’s planning at this point.

Copyright 2021 WWBT. All rights reserved.

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