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King County Metro is looking to reform its transit safety, security, and fare enforcement policies and practices through the SaFE reform initiative. Metro believes SaFE reform is a necessary step on its journey to becoming an anti-racist mobility agency, fulfilling its commitment to the King County Executive’s True North and values, and adhering to Metro’s Mobility Framework.

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We are reaching out to customers, community members, employees, and contractors to create and visualize together what a safe and welcoming Metro looks like. All of these groups make up Metro’s community and will have the opportunity to participate in this effort. To do this work equitably, Metro will focus on centering the voices of Black, Indigenous, and people of color members, especially those who intersect with other priority populations based on Metro’s Mobility Framework.

Metro understands the need to involve our communities in decision-making if we are to establish fair and equitable approaches and outcomes around safety, security, and enforcement, and reduce inequities and unbalanced impacts due to systemic racism.

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In this section

Initiative Overview

Background

Worldwide, racial justice movements are continuing to call out enforcement policies and practices for maintaining negative, imbalanced treatment of people based on their race. Such inequities continue to impact Metro, King County, and the country as a whole. Internally, Metro began asking how our agency can better live up to its four equity compacts: share power, interrupt business as usual, replace it with something better, and get comfortable with discomfort.

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Metro aims to center equity in our work, and equity is considered in everything Metro does, from how service is allocated, to where infrastructure is improved, to how engagement is conducted, and input from the community is sought. Metro established an Equity Cabinet in 2019 to center community in Metro’s policy decision-making, including the development of Metro’s Mobility Framework and updates to Metro’s Long-Range Plan, Strategic Plan, and Service Guidelines.

The death of George Floyd sparked a national debate about the effects of systemic racism over centuries, also bringing heightened attention to King County’s need to realign its programs in order to best meet the needs of BIPOC communities.

And, by June 2020, the King County Executive declared racism as a public health crisis. And Metro's Strategic Leadership Team issued a statement asking employees to "speak up and act to tear down oppression and systemic racism of Black, Indigenous, and all people of color" and to "adapt and meet the needs of the community" amongst other charges. These statements were a direct response to a call from community for more anti-racist, organizational changes, and a commitment from the county and Metro to becoming an anti-racist and pro-equity organization.

In order to be an anti-racist mobility agency, Metro must do more than just consider equity in its practices and policies. To accomplish a true, anti-racist existence, equity needs to be placed at the heart of our organization and reflected in all of Metro's practices and policies. There is a clear need for a permanent shift in all county policies and operations to ensure BIPOC can thrive in King County.

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Our goals

To carry out SaFE reform, we will work to:

  • Center Black, Indigenous, and people of color community voices – internal and external – especially those most affected by safety, security, and enforcement policies and practices on and near transit.
  • Host an inviting, inclusive, accessible, and productive engagement process.
  • Ensure participation from all of the groups Metro serves: community members, customers, employees, partners, and contractors.
  • Take a closer look at Metro’s policies, practices, and budgets to co-create new strategies for transit safety and security.
  • Reach shared goals by sharing power, learning from each other’s experiences and ideas, and making transparent decisions.

Engagement plan

The SaFE engagement plan has been designed to evolve and share power with our community. Metro understands the need to involve community members from diverse backgrounds in decision-making if we are to establish more equitable policies and practices around safety, security, and enforcement. Our engagement process aims to be inclusive and strong, working to dismantle any current practices that contribute to or are a result of systemic racism.

Metro plans to engage, plan, and make decisions using input from internal and external community members. Our varied pool of participants will draw from their diverse lived experiences, resulting in authentic, empathetic approaches, data-driven recommendations, and co-defined ideas of what a safe and welcoming Metro experience looks like for our customers, employees, and partners as a whole.

Scoping report

The Scoping Report was submitted to the King County Council in April 2021 and approved by the council in May 2021. The report provides background information, an overview of our community engagement approach, explains current safety, security, and enforcement functions at Metro, and states the goals for the SaFE reform initiative.

Implementation Report

The SaFE Implementation Report was submitted to the King County Council in February 2022. The Implementation Report describes the action steps to achieve the SaFE vision and eliminate negative impacts on customers and employees. The SaFE Lead Team recognizes that a single change to policy or practice will not achieve the vision statement at any scale. The SaFE process indicates that to sustain comprehensive change, a multi-pronged strategy—that addresses both immediate and long-term outcomes—heightens the opportunity for success. Implementing multiple strategies specific to desired outcomes allows Metro to simultaneously reform and restructure practices with different approaches. The strategies vary in subject, timing, and investment needs. Select implementation strategies will require additional coordination, engagement, and development due to the complexity of implementation and changing internal systems.

How you can participate

Metro is collecting feedback in four phases of engagement:

Metro has already engaged with internal and external stakeholders to define, with community, what is meant by co-creation and inclusive engagement. Co-creating the plan for how we will come together to do this work was critical to the process of engaging with community, both internal and external, as it helped to create:

  1. Ownership of the process
  2. Inclusivity in engagement through inclusivity in planning
  3. The opportunity to develop shared outcomes instead of a traditional agency approach (where the agency defines the problem and seeks validation from community on proposed solutions).
Co-defining co-creation and inclusive engagement

Engagement in Phase 1 helped us create the following definitions, which will center or work in later phases.

Co-creation: shared ownership of a vision of what safe and welcoming service looks and feels like to those most impacted by Metro’s current enforcement policies and practices, both internal and external to Metro, and the creation of policies and practices that will work to achieve that vision. With the understanding that the process—as the environment changes, policies should change with it—and will require a continued relationship with community.

Inclusive engagement: a tailored, accessible, and transparent planning and decision-making process that creates trust with specific communities through open dialogue, respect for the value every stakeholder brings to creating a safe and welcoming Metro, and shared ownership and commitment to action.

Here is a summary of phase 1 engagement (PDF).

In Phase 2, community, Metro employees, and the public created a vision for a safe, welcoming Metro. Metro then tested how well that vision resonates with stakeholders and made adjustments. In Phase 3, participants will identify the policies and practices that should change.

Here is a summary of Phase 2 engagement (PDF).

In Phase 3, Metro published a survey and hosted focus surveys to collect feedback on current policies and practices and how they align with the SaFE vision of what a safe and welcoming Metro looks like and recommend changes that could bring Metro closer to achieving the vision fully.

In the final engagement phase, Metro explored the conditions required to achieve the SaFE vision by the recommended changes from the engagement process. The Core and Equity Teams worked side-by-side in eight (8) hours of workshops to define potential implementation strategies and finally prioritize strategies to move forward for achieving the SaFE vision.

In this phase, Metro is coordinating with King County leadership to ensure the SaFE Implementation is consistent and supportive of the comprehensive approach led by the King County Executive.

SaFE will begin the implementation of strategies starting with the urgent category. Some strategies will require additional engagement with customers and employees to ensure implementation is consistent with expectations. Engagement will be consistent with the co-creation approach SaFE has followed throughout the development progress thus far. SaFE anticipates developing details about each implementation strategy such as transition steps, annual cost estimates, risks to Metro, equity of the County Executive, expected outputs, and performance targets. The implementation phase progress will be tracked and evaluated on an ongoing schedule to maximize the opportunity to adjust strategies to ensure performance aligns with the SaFE vision.

Simultaneously, SaFE will begin programming for ongoing community engagement with external and internal partners to support the implementation strategies and foster consistency across agencies. SaFE will reconvene the Equity and Core Teams to design the implementation engagement to be consistent with the co-creation approach completed previously. SaFE anticipates utilizing similar techniques as before while adjusting based on previous experience to enhance results.

Timeline

  • Passage of the 2021-2022 King County budget with a King County Council proviso asking Metro to review its safety, security, and fare enforcement functions.
  • Conducted Phase 1 engagement for SaFE reform
  • SaFE Reform Scoping Report transmitted to King County Council
  • King County Council passes SaFe Reform Scoping Report
  • Phase 2 engagement
  • Phase 3 engagement
  • Phase 4 engagement
  • SaFE Reform Implementation Report transmitted to King County Council
  • Implementation phase/ engagement
  • Launch SaFE Reform Pilot Programs

Racism as a public health crisis

On June 11, 2020, King County declared racism a public health crisis. All of King County government is committed to implementing a racially equitable response to this crisis, centering on community. The SaFE Reform Initiative has been identified as a “down payment” to community to address the harmful negative effects of systemic racism.


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