The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (GCRTA) is launching its new Transit Ambassador Program — a progressive policing and community engagement initiative that reduces the law enforcement’s footprint on GCRTA transit systems by integrating unarmed professionals to handle non-criminal issues.
“Our new Ambassador Program is a highly visible, uniformed civilian force created with the goal of preventing violence and disruptive behavior, providing assistance during medical emergencies, and maintaining a vigilant watch over rail stations, transit centers, and bus lines,” said GCRTA Chief of Police Deirdre Jones. “Our ambassador team includes Crisis Intervention Specialists who are trained and have expertise in using conflict resolution skills to help people experiencing mental health crises.”
Both Transit Ambassadors and Crisis Intervention Specialists will work in collaboration with GCRTA’s Transit Police and have their own specific responsibilities.
Transit Ambassadors responsibilities:
- Provide general information and assistance to riders and the public.
- Assist riders needing help with navigating GCRTA’s transit system.
- Assist riders in understanding and complying with fare policies.
- Request Transit Police assistance as needed.
- Help maintain a safe and clean environment.
Crisis Intervention Specialists (licensed social workers who are embedded with Transit Police Officers) responsibilities:
- Perform mental health, crisis, and substance abuse outreach.
- Defuse immediate crises and serve as a gateway to available resources.
- Establish relationships with social service agencies.
Transit Ambassadors and Crisis Intervention Specialists have received 40 hours of Crisis Intervention Team training along with training on de-escalation, defensive tactics, First Aid/CPR/Narcan, human trafficking awareness, and customer service.
One to two teams per shift will initially provide coverage on GCRTA’s HealthLine and at RTA rail stations before expanding out to other routes and locations.
“Crime prevention is an ongoing significant challenge for all major transit systems. However, we can and will continue to expand our safety measures with new programs, personnel, and technology to enhance safety for our riders, employees, and the public,” said GCRTA GM/CEO India L. Birdsong Terry. “To us, safety remains the baseline of all services we provide. And, we will never let down our guard. That’s our pledge to you.”