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KCATA: Partnership with police leads to fewer attacks on operators

Posted at 6:41 PM, Nov 01, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-02 11:49:00-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Kansas City Police Officer Christopher Sticken is a familiar face at the 31st and Troost bus stop. 

"We'll pull up and they'll immediately start walking away," Sticken said of the crowds that loiter on the corner.

He's one of the two officers who make up the KCPD Transit Unit. Every day they patrol bus stops and routes, working in tandem with off-duty officers who actually ride on buses. 

It's all an effort to prevent violence, like attacks against drivers, on KCATA buses and streetcars. 

"Whether it's our employee or our customer, one is too many," KCATA President & CEO Robbie Makinen said. 

In 2015, before the transit unit was created, there were 19 assaults on KCATA drivers/operators. Once the officers hit the streets in April 2016, that number dropped to 10, and it currently sits at seven for this year.

The KCATA plans to continue chipping away until the number is zero. The transit authority is also installing barrier walls in its buses in an effort to protect its drivers. 

"You have got to feel like you can ride public transit and know that it's one of the safest ways to get around," Makinen said.

Sticken said the unit received around 20 calls a day when it was first created, but that number has also dropped down to six or seven. For him, the best part of the job is making families who ride the bus feel safer. 

"That's the whole reason I'm a police officer," he said.

In light of its success in Kansas City, KCATA hopes to expand the police partnership to the other areas it serves, including Johnson and Wyandotte counties and Independence.