Metro Transit plans to hire new officers, increase visibility on trains and at facilities

As concerns over violence in the Twin Cities grow, Metro Transit announced on Thursday plans to grow its safety and customer service staff.

During a news conference, the public transit agency announced a $4 million investment that will help Metro Transit add new community service officers, police officers, and support staff over the next year.

Current plans would add 50 part-time community service officers and an unspecified addition of police officers. Metro Transit also plans to hire more staff to monitor cameras that allow officials to monitor trains and other facilities in real time.

Between new officers and support staff, Metro Transit says they hope to add 1,000 hours of "customer assistance" per week by the end of the year and increasing that to 2,000 by next July.

According to Metro Transit Police Department Chief Eddie Frizell, many of the customer service officers will be students working towards law enforcement careers who are working with Metro Transit as they pursue their careers.

With the investment, Chief Frizell says Metro Transit is also evolving the duties of customer service officers from generally administrative tasks and special event help to in-person customer assistance.

"Their new duties will have a key focus on enhancing the customer experience throughout the entire region," said Chief Frizell. "Creating a welcoming environment on the train, to assist commuters, and address any quality of life issues that may be present. Working on trains with full-time officers to instruct riders on how the fare system works and direct them to resources to help navigate the system."

Chief Frizell adds the customer service officers will have distinct uniforms compared to the full-time officers. He says the goal is to have the customer service officers be welcoming.