Pierce Transit earns transit security award

The Pierce Transit Department of Public Safety received one of only two Gold Award for Security Excellence presented by the American Public Transportation Association on May 22 at the annual Bus & Paratransit Conference held in Memphis, Tenn. The other award was presented to New York City Transit. Awarded in four categories determined by annual ridership, the Safety & Security Excellence Awards recognize public transportation organizations for their positive and proactive safety and security programs which are dedicated to improving safety and security for employees, passengers and the public. The top honor is the GOLD Award, given to organizations with the best overall bus safety or bus security program selected by an independent panel of judges. The Pierce Transit Department of Public Safety is led by Chief Rod Baker and Deputy Chief Bill Cassio and is comprised of 13 Transit Police, who are commissioned officers; 12 fully-trained Transit Security Officers; and part-time officers from the cities of Tacoma and Lakewood. Pierce Transit has witnessed a 26 percent decrease in overall criminal activity when comparing 2008 to 2010. This time frame is important for comparison because in mid-2008 Pierce Transit launched the in-house security program and full-time transit police division. Pierce Transit is the public transportation agency for Pierce County, providing local and regional express bus service, vanpools, rideshare services, and specialized transportation for people with disabilities. Last year, the agency provided more than 14 million passenger trips. The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) is a nonprofit international association of 1,500 public and private member organizations, engaged in the areas of bus, paratransit, light rail, commuter rail, subways, waterborne services, and intercity and high-speed rail.