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Board members discuss security plans in wake of Kalamazoo Metro bus shooting

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Posted at 1:54 PM, Dec 13, 2021

KALAMAZOO, Mich. — Board members of the CCTA and KCTA met Monday morning, where they discussed extensively the shooting that happened at the Metro Transportation Center on Saturday, November 27.

“We're not going to come up with a distinctive solution today, that is going to take some time,” said board member Greg Rosine as he opened the meeting.

“We’ve always been committed to safety at Metro, and I can’t imagine that commitment being diminished.”

The Kalamazoo County Transit Authority wrote a letter to the city of Kalamazoo last week, pushing for armed officers to be stationed at the Metro Transportation Center moving forward.

In the letter, they asked the city to commit to the following points:

  1. Provide a plan for a highly visible and consistent uniformed police presence for the area adjacent to and including the Transportation Center; and
  2. Partner with the CCTA and KCTA in a longer-term discussion with our drivers, staff, and Authority members on providing a safe and secure facility for all who use the Transportation Center

Chief Vernon Coakley of KDPS said in a written response Monday morning, “We are committed to working collaboratively with the Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Office, and the KCTA, to provide a safe environment at the Transportation Center.”

After some opening remarks Monday, Rosine invited 2 chaplains to share some thoughts about the shooting. Ken Hovenkamp, the chaplain at Portage Police Department, and Marcus Mays, Chaplain at Metro, both spoke.

“The first thing I noticed was everywhere I looked there was shock, fear. People were concerned about their safety, the safety of the passengers,” Hovenkamp said.

“I pray that all involved will recover quickly.”

Police say Oliver got on a bus and fired multiple shots that Saturday morning, injuring 3 people. He was killed by police after they responded to the scene.

All 3 people that Oliver shot had non-life-threatening injuries.

Representatives for the union that represents Metro bus drivers said 2 days after the shooting, that they wanted armed security officers at the transportation center moving forward.

Earl Cox, President of the Amalgamated Transit Union, also spoke to the gathered board members Monday.

“There was about 20 drivers at work that day, I was not one of them and I found out about the active shooting from the driver that was actually doing my route,” Cox said.

“I was afraid, I wasn’t on the scene…. So I felt helpless, and I didn’t know what to do. Thankfully when I arrived everyone was okay, physically.”

Cox said that drivers are still dealing with the severe trauma of November 27.

“Now reality is setting in, and it’s setting in for a lot of my coworkers,” Cox explained.

“This is one of those times where I didn’t know what to do.”

Several Metro bus drivers spoke from their homes, over Zoom, during the meeting’s public comment portion.

Driver Devin Hillsman spoke about the difficulties of returning to the Metro Transportation Center in the wake of the shooting.

“I don’t know what safe will feel like from here on, but we have to figure that out,” she said.

Executive Director of the Kalamazoo County Transit Authority Shawn McBride finished the meeting with their preliminary plans moving forward.

“Moving ahead here, the past couple weeks, our main focus has been helping our employees, helping our Metro family deal with the trauma of the incident,” McBride said.

McBride explained Metro’s intention of forming a task force to come up with both immediate safety protocols they can implement, as well as discuss long-term plans.

He hopes to include in the discussions the ATU, the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety, the Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Office, Metro’s current on-site security firm, and Integrated Services of Kalamazoo County.

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