A Capital (Metro) Idea

RECEIVED Wed., Feb. 28, 2024

Dear Editor,
    I read with some interest the letter about Cap Metro considering having unarmed security riders ["Opinion: Cap Metro Must Safeguard No-Cost Transit for Unhoused Austinites," Feb. 16]. I noted that the opinion of the (I take it currently homeless) native is one of opposition to the proposal. I am an Austin native, with 10 years of homelessness in my past – two of which were on the streets; outside. I live on the edge currently, one bad decision and/or instance of bad luck away from the street today. I'm in favor of unarmed security on buses, but with a couple caveats and one suggestion. First, let me say I feel anyone weighing in should use Cap Metro for, say, a month before opining. Perhaps unarmed security, with neutral (non police-like, but clearly identifying) uniforms, trained perhaps in conflict resolution and maybe mental health issue resolution, with very clear responsibilities – as in safety, not drug enforcement. In this day where even many homeless possess better smartphones than myself, perhaps everyone could feel safer, and even perhaps tourists might be riding. Of course security riders should be diverse ethnically, and with clear mission and some crisis management – but, here's an idea – why not start by hiring actual homeless to do the job? We need jobs – I'm looking for one now; perhaps it could be a stepping stone to housing? I am certain there are many who could and would do a great and fair job – I think rigid standards and qualifications could still be met hiring homeless. No system will be perfect; there will always be some problems, but I think security could work for everyone.
William Kelley
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