Portland transit workers union has ‘zero confidence’ that left-wing DA will prosecute assaults against drivers

A union representing transit workers in Portland, Oregon, is speaking out against the lack of prosecutions from Democratic Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt’s office, saying bus drivers fear for their safety. According to Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) 757, there were 170 assaults last year on the TriMet, the bus, light rail and commuter rail service in the Portland region. Most recently, a TriMet operator was stabbed at the end of her route on March 13. Union representatives have accused the DA’s office of leniency on these crimes, saying they have “zero confidence” in Schmidt. “I am not aware of any of those going to a prosecution on an assault charge. As far as I know, the DA’s office has either dropped the charges or settled on a plea deal with a misdemeanor of ‘interfering with public transportation,’” ATU 757 Vice President Fred Casey told local news station KATU.  He said neighboring counties are tougher on crime, and that failing to prosecute criminals makes people afraid.  PORTLAND RESIDENT WARNS CRIMINALS WILL TURN TO HOME BREAK-INS AS BUSINESSES FLEE CITY “There’s a stark difference when something happens on a bus out in Washington County, or Clackamas County. And the response is quite different than here in Multnomah County,” Casey said. “You should not have to have that level of fear coming to work,” he added. Schmidt’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.  It us not the first time Schmidt’s office has been accused of being soft on crime. Last year, local NBC affiliate KGW reported that the Multnomah County DA’s office was prosecuting less than half of misdemeanor theft cases. Data showed that Schmidt was prosecuting fewer second- and third-degree theft cases than Rod Underhill, his predecessor.  MULTNOMAH COUNTY DA PROSECUTING LESS THAN HALF OF MISDEMEANOR THEFT CASES, NEW DATA SHOWS At the time, Schmidt defended his office’s work, denying there was no policy against prosecuting certain cases. “If we have the evidence we need, we’re launching these cases,” he said.  Schmidt also said more than 280 cases in Multnomah County were dismissed this year because there was an insufficient number of public defenders, according to KATU. Of those cases, 75 were misdemeanors and 206 were felonies, according to case numbers from his office. On Tuesday, the DA announced a grand jury indictment of 28-year-old Ana Karen Perez-Velador, who is accused of stabbing a TriMet bus driver. Investigators say Perez-Velador stabbed the bus driver in the leg, and she faces eight charges including attempted murder in the second degree and assault in the second degree. Though Schmidt appears to be taking action in this assault case, Casey said the union doubts Perez-Velador will be prosecuted on those charges. HOMELESS ENCAMPMENT HAS PORTLAND RESIDENTS BEGGING FOR HELP, SCARED TO GO OUTISDE: ‘ABSOLUTELY HELPLESS’ “We have zero confidence, zero confidence that Mike Schmidt and his office is going to prosecute these people the way that they need to be prosecuted,” Casey said. KATU reported that Schmidt’s office declined three separate interview requests but did say it was working to set up a meeting with union representatives to discuss their concerns.  Casey said previous meetings have been unproductive.  “We’ve tried to have meetings with them, tried to discuss it with them, and we don’t really get anywhere with Mike Schmidt or Ted [Wheeler]. With Clackamas County and Washington County DA’s it was a different story, there was a lot of engagement and talk with them, so we don’t seem to have the prosecuting issues in those two counties that we do in Multnomah,” Casey said. Fox News’ Jon Brown contributed to this report.
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