Metro Ambassador program hopes to provide safety, support to riders
LOS ANGELES - The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority launched a new pilot program of ambassadors Monday to provide support and safety for riders on the transit system.
Nearly 300 new Metro Ambassadors made their debut Monday. Their job is to monitor what's happening on buses and trains, as well as to help riders navigate the system, provide extra eyes and ears, and support for riders who need assistance.
Jenifer Sory is one of the program's new ambassadors. She said she wanted this job "to help people." Other ambassadors come from diverse backgrounds, like Takiesha Harper, who previously worked in customer service. She said, "I love this job. I absolutely love this job." Meanwhile, Patrick Satchell is an Air Force veteran with security experience.
The program has been in the works for several years. Ambassadors are unarmed, but have undergone 40 hours of classroom training, and another 40 hours of field training. The job starts at $23.50 an hour.
LA County Supervisor Holly Mitchell said the ambassadors are an alternative safety model.
"We thought that by again by having an extra set of eyes on the system unarmed and well-trained we could improve people’s perception of public safety without the unnecessary risk of over policing or enabling situations to escalate violence," she said.
"After I got out of the military I contemplated being in law enforcement I understand the pressure and people need to be happy," Satchell said.
Ambassadors are trained not to engage, but disengage.
"If there’s a situation where there is a gun, we back off the situation," Harper said. "You ask the other riders to back off the situation so that everyone can be safe."
Sory and her team saved a woman’s life one night on a train platform by administering CPR.
"You have to think fast," Sory said. "You can’t wait any second. Every second counts."
To the new Metro Ambassadors it’s about three words: "support," "connect" and "report" every second they’re on a train.