Agency releases newest crime statistics, says it is working to make the transit system safer.

COURTES TRIMET - Visitors at the spontaneous memorials created at the Hollywood Transit Center after the May 26, 2017 attack on a MAX train.Crime on or near TriMet buses and trains increased from 2016 to 2017, according to a new report released by the regional transit agency days before the one-year anniversary of the worst crime in TriMet's history.

Some of the increase could be explained by riders and others reporting more incidents following the May 26, 2017, attack on a MAX train that left two men dead and another severely injured.

According to the statistics, released last week, the TriMet system recorded 1,424 reported offenses against people, property or society in 2017. That compares to 1,247 such offenses reported in 2016.

"The May 26 attack had a profound impact on the community, on TriMet and on our riders," said TriMet executive director of safety and security Harry Saporta. "When you have a devastating incident, people tend to pay more attention to their surroundings and are more apt to report concerns. We appreciate that attention and encourage continuing awareness."

The statistics were presented to TriMet's Board of Directors on May 22. This is the second year of a new reporting system that prevents direct comparision to years prior to 2016. It tracks and counts all offenses within a single reported criminal event, rather than the individual incidents. For example, the attack on a MAX train pulling into the Hollywood Transit Center led to 15 reported offenses.

Despite the increase, TriMet says the rate of offenses in 2017 was relately low, while the number of reported offenses is low when compared to the number of rides provided — just a single offense for every 68,000-plus trips.

Nevertheless, TriMet has significantly increased security on the transit system and plans more upgrades in the future.

Immediately following the May 26, 2017, attack, TriMet partnered with law enforcement agencies across the area to provide overtime for added patrols on the system. Extra patrols were added around the major events such as the Rose Festival and during holidays, in addition to the routine patrols and presence Transit Police provide on the transit system.

Since then, TriMet increased the presence of contracted unarmed G4S security personnel on the system to 37 by the end of 2017. TriMet also increased the hours for the G4S security presence from 2,800 hours a week patrolling the system at the beginning of the year to 3,200 hours starting this month.

The TriMet board has increased spending for the the Safety & Security Division in the agency's annual budget that takes effect on July 1 by $3.5 million, or more than 13 percent to an overall level of more than $30.2 million. The additional funds will add more coverage by G4S officers bringing them to a level of about 3,600 hours a week.

TriMet is also working to increase the number of transit police officers, adding seven positions to bring the staffing level to 75.

"Our objective is to decrease fear and increase the level of trust our community and our operators have in the service we provide," said Transit Police Cmdr. Sara Westbrook.

TriMet is also making safety improvements at stations along the MAX lines.

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