King County Metro will no longer facilitate requests for out-of-service buses to transport law enforcement officers. Additionally, under no circumstances will Metro provide buses to transport law enforcement to demonstrations or protests.
These decisions were not taken lightly and reflect Metro’s core mission of serving the public. Previously, Metro occasionally provided out-of-service buses to transport police officers or state troopers who were ensuring public safety at festivals, marches, and parades.
During the early days of demonstrations protesting the killing of George Floyd, Metro approved requests to make buses available on Saturday, May 30 and Monday, June 1. The transported officers were from Metro Transit Police, the Seattle Police Department, the police departments of nearby jurisdictions, and the Washington State Patrol. At no point during the demonstrations did Metro transport arrested protesters.
The unprecedented frequency, duration, and scope of the requests during the demonstrations quickly became operationally unsustainable for Metro. As such, Metro informed the Seattle Police Department on June 3 that it was no longer in a position to facilitate these requests directly. At that time, we requested that law enforcement entities instead direct these requests to the County’s Emergency Operations Center. This streamlined requests, while still allowing for the potential of Metro’s involvement if public safety demanded, such as following an earthquake.
More recently, however, Metro has considered more broadly the appropriate relationship between a transit agency and law enforcement. At Metro, we are guided by King County’s Equity and Social Justice Strategic Plan, we follow the direction of the Equity Cabinet’s Mobility Framework to prioritize service to areas of highest need, and we are dedicated to dismantling racism. We redoubled that commitment following the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and many others by police.
However, our conversations and reflections in recent days remind us of the role that law enforcement has played historically in our nation and continues to represent for many within the communities we are most called to serve. It is within that frame that Metro strengthens its June 3 statement by clarifying that, under no circumstances including through the County’s Emergency Operations Center, will we provide buses to law enforcement traveling to demonstrations or protests.
While we are grateful to Metro Transit Police and other law enforcement partners for continuing to keep our passengers and employees safe, it is not appropriate for a transit agency to deliver high numbers of law enforcement officers to a demonstration or protest.
While this is just one step, we continue to work with community to build awareness of our past, disrupt our present, and work toward a more equitable future.
Moving forward together,
General Manager, King County Metro