Public Transportation Users Seek Alternatives For Transit Police!

FEATURED PHOTO: CLEVELAND MUNICIPAL JUDGE EMMANUELLA GROVES

Patch.com, By Jeff Arnold, Posted December 4th 2020

In a virtual town hall meeting, community organizers say Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority workers often target people of color.

Local residents concerned about the presence of transit police used as part of Cleveland’s public transportation system continue to seek alternatives to Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority employees that commuters say often harass riders, especially people of color.

Local advocacy groups have been pushing for replacement for transit police, which community organizers said during a virtual town hall meeting do not always equate to the guarantee of public safety, advocates from two community groups announced in a news release Friday.

Instead, participants in the meeting maintained that city-paid transit police officers often harass and target people of color and riders coming from low-income areas or those who are homeless, the release said. According to organizers from Clevelanders for Public Transit and Black Spring CLE, representatives from GCRTA were invited to participate in the town hall but did not do so.

“It speaks volumes about how they feel about this issue and a possible resolution,” Brittney Madison, chairperson for CPT’s policy committee said in the news release.

An email sent to a GCRTA spokeswoman seeking comment on the group’s claims was not immediately returned on Friday.

Among the participants in the town hall was Cleveland Municipal Judge Emanuella Groves, who, in 2017, ruled that RTA’s policy of using armed police to conduct fare enforcement is unconstitutional.

Since then, community organizers have been seeking an alternative for the traffic police, which, according to the CPT group news release, said the city continues to spend more than $14 million for each year over a span when fares have doubled and public transportation services have been cut by 25 percent, the group said in the release.

According to the release, GCRTA uses HealthLine operators to check fares, which organizers say causes delays and less-reliable service over the past three years, as well as a massive drop in reported crimes of “misconduct” (fare evasion), from over 5,000 cases in 2017 to just 259 cases in 2018. In some cases, participants in the town hall spoke of instances they either witnessed or were part of in which transit police overstepped their bounds in fare enforcement. Joe Gaston, a public transportation

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