King County Metro is ready for our next steps in making sure that riders and operators feel safe throughout our mobility system while ensuring that all communities are afforded dignity and respect.
On April 12, King County Executive Dow Constantine transmitted to the King County Council our outline for the Safety, Security, and Fare Enforcement (SaFE) Reform Initiative, Metro’s plan to reimagine safety and security by reexamining, and restructuring our security, and fare enforcement practices. The proposal stems from the Executive’s priotization of anti-racism in the 2021-22 budget. The initiative was approved on May 4 by the King County Council’s Law and Justice Committee and awaits final action by the full council.
This initiative was developed during a period of dramatic change in Martin Luther King County and throughout the country. In June 2020, Executive Constantine declared racism to be a public health crisis and reaffirmed King County’s commitment to becoming anti-racist and pro-equity. The declaration came during the growing local, national, and global awakening – led by the Black Lives Matter movement – to the experiences of police brutality and racist systems that disproportionately harm Black, Indigenous, and people of color communities.
At Metro, we redoubled our commitment to equity and have begun exploring new approaches to working with the communities we serve. We’re focused on strengthening relationships to advance safety, equity, and inclusion, and centering the voices of and input from Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) communities that enforcement systems have most negatively impacted.
Metro’s Fare Enforcement, Transit and Facility Security, and Transit Police teams all contribute to our ability to address customers’ and employees’ safety and security needs. These safety and security functions provide Metro with the appropriate public safety resources to uphold the transit “Code of Conduct” on Metro services. As established by King County Code, the Code of Conduct addresses “quality of life” and safety issues as needed on transit. Reforming the role of transit safety is critical to King County Metro’s advancement to becoming an anti-racist mobility agency.
Developed through interaction with BIPOC communities, SaFE’s goal is to co-create public safety outcomes for our mobility system by developing and amending safety, security, and fare enforcement policies and practices that continue to disproportionally impact communities already facing the challenges of systemic racism.
The internal and external engagement processes involved in developing SaFE will involve four steps:
- Define and co-create inclusive engagement through discussion and collaboration with employees and stakeholders (already completed),
- Establish transparency in how decisions will be made, set expectations on what this effort will address, and reach agreement on this reform effort’s approach and scope,
- Determine which current policies and practices help and hurt the vision of what a safe and welcoming Metro looks like and how those adversely impacted experience the impacts of these policies and procedures,
- Empower and equip the community to prioritize all feasible recommendations by exploring previous phases’ content.
Metro understands that mobility—the ability to get where you need to go, when you need to safely, equitably, and sustainably—is a human right. We also understand that, to achieve this, we need the collaboration and participation of the community and our employees. SaFE will help create a blueprint to make sure that all voices are heard as we make our mobility system safer and more equitable.