Video showing a violent tussle as four security officers attempt to subdue a man aboard a Sound Transit train Tuesday night inside Capitol Hill Station has many calling for the transit agency and King County Sheriff to explain the use of force and the policies around fare enforcement on the area’s light rail and bus systems.
A representative for King County Sheriff which provides police service along with Sound Transit police on the light rail system said a statement on the arrest is forthcoming and that he expects video showing the full incident to be released.
Welp, just saw three fare enforcement officers for @SoundTransit tackle a dude to the ground for…what, fare evasion? They knocked his glasses off his face, I told them to pick them up, and instead they trampled them.
This is insane. pic.twitter.com/mzvRdAbfZ1
— g (@SeattleGAK) September 19, 2018
According to the representative, the incident began before the 9:30 PM arrest with the man cited for a fare issue as he rode on a northbound train. The man reportedly began causing a disturbance and exited the northbound train, crossed the platform, and entered a southbound train. There he was contacted by deputies and Sound Transit police leading to the scramble on the floor of the train caught on video. The sheriff representative said the glasses that can be seen busted in the video actually belonged to one of the security personnel in the incident.
Fare enforcement is a controversial issue for Sound Transit and King County Metro with critics pointing to its unfair impact on homeless and low income riders as well as people of color. Despite that, both agencies focus on infrastructure that is more about scale and ease of use than turnstiles and tickets. Typical fines for infractions are around $124 and enforcement officers usually let first-time offenders off with a warning.
UPDATE: Fare enforcement for Sound Transit and Metro is provided by Securitas, a private company under contract with the agency and King County. “Eighteen Securitas USA officers, all with at least two years of structured security or military and strong customer service experience, were hired as fare enforcement officers,” the company reported in a case study (PDF) on its work with Sound Transit. “Their training involves extensive role-playing scenarios, including dealing effectively with disruptive or malicious behavior, as well as report writing that is appropriate for court proceedings.” Securitas USA officers “balance their role of outreach to riders needing assistance with enforcing rules that maintain a safe and pleasant riding experience,” the study reads.
Regardless of how Tuesday night’s situation began, the use of force over a fare enforcement issue will still trouble many. We’ve asked Sound Transit for more information about the situation and the use of force related to fare enforcement and will update when we hear back.
UPDATE 9/20/2018 8:15 AM: In a post to Twitter Wednesday night, the King County Sheriff department’s public information office provided a summary of the arrest by its deputies with details of how the security personnel say the incident began. Video of the start of the incident has not yet been made publicly available. The department says the suspect was booked for unlawful transit conduct and resisting arrest.
— KingcosoPIO (@kingcosoPIO) September 20, 2018
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