SEPTA's Board announced it has approved measures that will add social outreach workers from Merakey Parkside Recovery, Eagle Staffing and One Day at a Time, Inc..
These specialists will add to teams that are already deployed on the system to assist individuals experiencing homelessness, addiction, and mental illness.
"These are extremely complex societal issues, and we know that they cannot be solved by law enforcement alone," said Pasquale T. Deon Sr., SEPTA board president. "We are committed to addressing the challenges of the vulnerable population, while also ensuring SEPTA is positioned to play its critical role in our region's recovery."
The new outreach workers will expand the reach of SEPTA's SCOPE (Safety, Cleaning, Ownership, Partnerships and Engagement) program. The program was launched earlier this year to help with outreach to the vulnerable population.
"We greatly appreciate the SEPTA Board's support for additional outreach specialists," said Leslie S. Richards, SEPTA GM and CEO. "These efforts not only help the vulnerable population, but they also provide a healthier work environment for our employees and make our system more welcoming to our customers."
There will also be additional resources for the SEPTA Transit Police Department's SAVE (Serving a Vulnerable Entity Unit), which pairs Transit Police Officers with outreach workers for patrols.
"The outreach workers will work in coordination with and respond to requests from SEPTA police officers, elevator attendants, station cashiers, and maintenance and custodial employees to engage members of the vulnerable population at specific locations," said Kenneth Divers, SEPTA assistant director for Transportation. "We will also continue to work closely with our partners in the community, city and region to connect people with the resources they need."
SEPTA said personnel will continue to work closely with one another to advance the SCOPE and SAVE programs.
"The partnership with outreach workers is allowing us to reach people who otherwise might be hesitant to accept help from police," said Thomas J. Nestel III, SEPTA transit police chief. "We are encouraged by the progress we have seen so far, and we are grateful to have additional resources for this important work."