MCTS drivers trained to deal with unruly riders

Posted at 12:33 PM, Mar 15, 2016

Police continue to investigate Monday evening’s officer-involved shooting in Brown Deer.

According to the Brown Deer Police Department, a Milwaukee County Transit System bus driver flagged down two BDPD patrol officers to alert them of an unruly passenger on the bus just before 5 p.m.

Police said the officers took the person off the bus, but an altercation followed that resulted in the passenger being shot and the two officers injured.

As of Tuesday morning, the passenger remained in a local hospital. The two Brown Deer police officers involved were treated and released and have now been placed on administrative leave, which is standard procedure.

The Milwaukee Police Department is investigating the shooting in accordance with a state law requiring all officer-involved shootings be investigated by an outside, law enforcement agency.

In an email, a spokesperson for MPD said, as the lead investigating agency on the case, it would refer any possible charges against the passenger to the district attorney’s office.

According to MCTS Chief Marketing and Communications Officer Brendan Conway, all bus drivers are trained for scenarios like Monday’s. Even if such instances are rare.

Conway said MCTS’s 750 bus drivers provide roughly 150,000 rides per day.

“In any large city, you’re going to have the occasional problem,” Conway said. “But unruly passengers is pretty far down on our list.”

He said all bus drivers receive five weeks of safety training before they can hit the road. Conway said such training involves the basics of driving a bus, as well as policies and protocols regarding passengers who are being loud, disruptive, or even lack enough money to pay for their ride.

Conway said MCTS policy encourages any drivers having issues to call transit’s dispatch center.

“They’re there 24/7 and they have a direct line to 911 if needed,” Conway said of the dispatchers.

He said dispatchers could also choose to send out one of MCTS’s security officers. Conway said the transit system also has route supervisors, or managers, that maintain a presence on local roads as well.

In worst case scenarios, Conway said drivers have the capability of sounding a “silent alarm system” on the bus that lets authorities know those on board may be in distress.

Conway said Milwaukee police also regularly perform random, spot safety checks on MCTS buses. He said MPD performs approximately 58 such checks each day.

“There are isolated incidents here and there, but we think that working with police and with our security, we do a pretty good job,” Conway said.

He said the Milwaukee County Transit System also regularly applies for grant money it can use to provide additional safety training. Most recently, it received a $225,000 grant from the Department of Homeland Security.

“Because of that grant, over the next few months every driver will be coming through and having some training done specifically on how to deal with a passenger that’s causing problems,” Conway said.