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Update: TriMet manual on crime witness policy

Posted by on January 22nd, 2007 at 9:53 am

UPDATE: TriMet spokesperson Mary Fetsch says the driver did report the incident and that he did call 911.


One account from the incident last week alleges that a TriMet bus was on the scene as Ashley Gorman was being beaten yet did not stop to offer passengers as witnesses and the driver allegedly did not call the incident in to dispatch.

According to this comment by Megan, (a friend of the victims),

“The bus driver, a city employee*, DID NOT CALL 911 while he had a front row seat at the show. HE also drove off with all of the witnesses, while the attackers took off on foot.”

I looked over the official TriMet Bus Operators manual to see if there was any specific language about what a driver must do in this situation. I found one section that might apply:

From the chapter 9; Accidents, Emergencies, and Mechanical Problems

9.4.9 Witnessing Criminal Acts / Suspicious Activities

  • 1. Get a detailed description of the suspect and specific activity.
  • 2. If the suspect flees in a vehicle, get a license plate number and vehicle description.
  • 3. Note the direction of travel of the suspect.
  • 4. Notify dispatch: Press EMERG, 1-Police, and SEND.
  • 5. Follow dispatch instructions.

I’m not sure, but this policy might only apply to incidents that happen on or to the bus. It’s not clear if drivers have an obligation to report crimes they see happening at a bus stop specifically.

I’ve emailed TriMet spokesperson Mary Fetsch and hopefully she can clarify this for us. I’ll update this when I hear from her.

[*Bus drivers are not city employees. I overlooked that reference in the quote above.]

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Thank you — Jonathan

  • Bjorn January 22, 2007 at 11:01 am

    The driver would actually have committed a traffic violation if it is true that they saw the incident and did not do anything. ORS 811.715 Failure to perform the duties of witness to accident is a Class B traffic violation and occurs when a witness to an injury/death causing accident does not furnish the driver/occupant of vehicles involved in the accident with their true name and address. I think we should stop calling them accidents but if the girls and the woman collided intentionally or otherwise in a way that resulted in a dislocated shoulder then anyone who saw it occur is legally obligated to provide this information, regardless of if they are working for tri-met or not. Since there was also an assault it may also be covered by other regulations, but just a reminder to anyone if you see an collision you should always stop and provide your contact information.


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  • Dabby January 22, 2007 at 12:02 pm

    Isn’t a bus stop considered Tri Met property, therefore making non-reporting the accident a violation of not only morally wrong, but legally wrong in accordance with Portland city, and Tri Met rules….

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  • gabrielamadeus January 22, 2007 at 12:10 pm

    and then there is always that pesky “moral” obligation to help fellow human beings in need.

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  • janis January 22, 2007 at 1:09 pm

    I would like to clarify that TriMet drivers are not City of Portland employees.

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  • Jonathan Maus January 22, 2007 at 1:18 pm

    thanks Janis. I should have caught that sooner. I’ve made a note about it in the post. sorry for any confusion.

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  • jami January 22, 2007 at 1:27 pm

    if the driver saw a woman getting beat up, it was his obligation as a human to report it, not just as a bus driver.

    it would be nice to know if the police are pursuing the video from the camera on that bus.

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  • Brian E. January 22, 2007 at 2:55 pm

    TriMet is a municipal corporation of the State of Oregon. It is a public body.

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  • organic brian January 22, 2007 at 3:02 pm

    TriMet customer service:



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  • Jonathan Maus January 22, 2007 at 3:59 pm

    TriMet has responded.

    Spokesperson Mary Fetsch says she did get an incident report from the driver and that the driver also called 911 but they already knew about it at that point.

    Trying to update the post too.

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  • Anonymous January 22, 2007 at 4:45 pm

    I don’t know why some of these comments are painting Trimet as the bad guy. Ultimately, they are one of our best allies in this growing world of increasingly hectic transportation.

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  • ben January 22, 2007 at 5:57 pm

    do when know WHEN the driver reported/called?
    was it immediately….or lets say at the end of his/her shift?

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  • Paul January 22, 2007 at 8:39 pm

    I support Trimet, there are drivers who have made poor choices but the agency is great. Try getting a quick response from MTA or the Metro in DC – forget it. Give them a break.

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  • Michael January 22, 2007 at 8:49 pm

    Amen to that. I’ve had a MTA busdriver give me the finger for asking if it was acceptable for her to have a 30 minute argument on her cell phone while driving her passengers through downtown Baltimore. It took the mayor a month to reply to the letter I sent—I never got word back from MTA.

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  • jami February 1, 2007 at 12:53 pm

    i got a response from trimet about the video camera that caught the attack:

    “I am sorry but the tapes on the buses rewind every 24 hours. That footage
    would be gone. In the future when you feel there needs to be a taped pull
    you would want to contact the local police the day of and they can request
    that the tape be pulled.”

    given that i didn’t hear about this until a few days after the attack and i’m just a random git anyway, it seems like in the future, bus drivers and police officers should take more responsibility for “pulling” these tapes before they’re re-used. if i remember, i’ll follow up with trimet and the police department to suggest that they make the necessary improvements.

    in the mean time, your attempt to strengthen community in nopo is valiant, jonathan. i hope it works out.

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