Graham Kilmer

Shooting on Bus Underscores Transit Security Debate

Can county policymakers and MCTS address safety and security challenges?

By - Aug 25th, 2023 02:06 pm

An MCTS bus became a crime scene after a shooting occurred aboard it. Photo by Graham Kilmer.

At roughly noon Thursday, there was a shooting on a Milwaukee County Transit System (MCTS) bus.

According to the Milwaukee Police Department, a 41-year-old man was shot and taken to the hospital. At the time of publication, the suspect has not yet been apprehended.

The bus was traveling eastbound on W. Capitol Drive near N. Sherman Boulevard. The operator was, understandably, shaken up, Mike Brown, vice president of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 998 told Urban Milwaukee. It will be a while before she returns to work.

“The gun violence is getting out of hand in Milwaukee,” Brown told Urban Milwaukee just outside the crime scene tape, and from time to time it spills into the transit system’s buses and bus stops. The union vice president said he’s heard of many incidents recently from bus operators, like another operator that had a gun brandished at them as they drove the bus.

These recent incidents underscore the effort of ATU leaders to improve safety and security on the buses.

In 2022, a survey of MCTS bus operators captured something that had, until then, not shown up in the transit system’s data. A majority of bus operators are concerned for their safety while at work: 56% said security was lacking and 61% said they didn’t feel safe at work.

Security incidents had been going down, according to the transit system’s data, but union leaders like Brown have regularly said not everything gets reported. And it wasn’t just drivers that weren’t reporting the incidents. Only last year the transit system began following up with police or the District Attorney’s office to pursue charges against riders that assault bus drivers.

The Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors created a task force dedicated to transit safety and security in the 2023 budget. The task force worked quickly to try to develop a plan in time for the 2024 budget process. Their recommendation will come with a handful of policy proposals for the transit system. But in wrapping up quickly, the task force failed to achieve consensus on the exact nature of a new security force it proposes to replace the current private force with.

There are four options and they range in size from 41 to 51 transit security workers. Depending on the plan, the security personnel would be either county or MCTS employees.

Union leaders have in the past advocated for a law enforcement presence on the buses. But when the Milwaukee County Sheriff‘s Office presented what it would need to tackle the issue, it proposed the creation of an entire transit division with a large price tag. The task force never considered law enforcement again.

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One thought on “Transportation: Shooting on Bus Underscores Transit Security Debate”

  1. Thomas Sepllman says:

    WHEN OH WHEN will anyone listen????

    “The gun violence is getting out of hand in Milwaukee,” Brown told Urban Milwaukee

    Yes gun violence is getting out of hand and NO ONE is willing to DEMAND that ALL THE CHILDREN who are TRAUMATIZED get the therapy they NEED TO HEAL.

    It it just that simple Yes getting all the traumatized kids the therapy will be costly and may be complicated BUT to know that is what we have to do is NOT COMPLICATED and yet even Urban Milwaukee refuses to call for therapy for all traumatized kids They even refuse to interview me or talk with me or report on pathway that I layout

    BUT we continue to write

    “The gun violence is getting out of hand in Milwaukee,” Brown told Urban Milwaukee

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