AUSTIN, Texas - Austin native Jaquane Huricks has ridden CapMetro for as long as he can remember. Over the years, he says he has seen many bad situations unfold at the bus stations.
“You don’t have a ticket, no money. The bus driver tries to tell you, get off the bus and what not, but that individual wants to argue with the driver and try to take advantage,” said Huricks, describing one incident at a bus stop.
So that's why news of a possible CapMetro police department was music to his ears. “That's where I believe the Cap Metro's own police should come in at so they can escort that person off the bus, because we all have to do it the right way,” he said.
“It would be a small department, it won't be a large department, we will still partner with APD in the future as we grow and potentially other departments as well,” said Darryl Jamail, director of public safety and emergency management.
In 2021, Capital Metro will be seeking legislative approval for a police department of its own. There are many reasons for this.
“Just hiring part-time officers, you don't have the officers that have the in-depth understanding of the transit system, the customers and operating environment,” said Jamail.
Also, Austin is getting bigger.
“As the city grows and as our system grows along with that it is just going to require more officers who have an in-depth knowledge of the system. What we assessed is we'd be somewhere between San Diego and Denver as far as the policing model we use where you have a relatively small force that focuses on the specialized law enforcement areas,” said Jamail.
Project Connect is an expansion plan on the November ballot, but even if it doesn't pass, the transit service is preparing for growth regardless.
The CapMetro Police Department would include a set of officers for supervision, detectives, and officers on the streets.
“We need it because there are a lot of things going on out here that is definitely unnecessary. Too many people are taken advantage of,” said Huricks.