Security improvements made in Seattle bus tunnel

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by LINDA BRILL / KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on February 22, 2010 at 6:03 PM

Updated Monday, Feb 22 at 6:21 PM

SEATTLE - Security guards at the Metro bus tunnel now have the authority to intervene if there is an assault. Olympic Security Guards have gotten two days of training, and the manager says they have the tools to step in if violence erupts.

Will they protect you?

"The security officer will do the best he can. He has been trained. He's been given the tools and his safety and the safety around him will make the final determination," said Mark Vinson of Olympic Security.

The change comes after KING 5 uncovered the now widely seen video of a 15-year-old girl being beaten in the tunnel as security guards stood by.

The security company contract, which allowed them only to observe and report, has been changed to allow guards to de-escalate a dangerous situation.

Transit riders like the change.

"They should be able to intervene for the safety of the patrons," said one.

"They're probably not well trained but they should be able to do something," said another.

Transit officials on Monday were asked why it took so long for police to arrive after the tunnel assault was called in.

They said it took six minutes. There is a communications glitch.

The security guard called Metro's link control, Metro then called the Sheriff's dispatch. The sheriff then called Seattle Police 911 for a joint response.

It all uncovered a big problem. Sheriff's deputies can't communicate by radio directly with Seattle Police.

We're told the glitch is being fixed.

"It's an easy fix. It needs to be added by the communications people, IT people," said Jutilla.

Even without the changes, Metro insists the tunnel is safe. They point to only four assaults last year, with 10 million riders coming through.

The King County Executive said last week that Olympic Security's contract will not be renewed.

The company did not say Monday if they plan to put in a bid.
 

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