DETROIT—Detroit Police Chief James Craig pledged to work with the Detroit Department of Transportation to address safety concerns following a wildcat strike by bus drivers that halted service Monday.
“This disruption has certainly had an effect,” he said during an afternoon conference. “We’re going to stop the madness.”
An exceptionally high number of DDOT drivers called in sick Monday morning, shutting down service, and then staged a rally in front of city hall. The Detroit Free Press reports that about 200 drivers showed up for the march demanding that the city do a better job of protecting them.
Amalgamated Transit Union Local 26 President and Business Agent Fred Westbrook told the Detroit News four drivers have suffered attacks on DDOT buses in the past week in incidents that have included stabbings, a scuffle with passengers and a urine-throwing episode. He denied calling the sick out.
After the rally, Chief Craig met with Westbrook and Gary Brown, Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr’s chief compliance officer, to discuss how to respond to the situation.
During his 4 p.m. conference, Craig said a special transit unit was being assembled to protect drivers and passengers.
“We will stand up a small unit of 10 officers. They’ll be dedicated to transit services," he said. “We want to make sure our drivers are safe.”
He added that officers have already been boarding buses over the last few weeks, but that the new unit would allow for a more consistent response.
At the conference, a DDOT official also announced several measures the agency would soon be taking to improve the safety situation. These include installing cameras, coordinating security with the people mover, driver safety trainings and reinstating a passenger’s code of conduct.