A union representing transit workers in Portland, Oregon, is speaking out against the lack of charges from Multnomah County Democratic District Attorney Mike Schmidt’s office, saying bus drivers fear for their safety.
According to the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) 757, last year there were 170 assaults on TriMet, Portland’s regional bus, light rail and commuter rail service. Most recently, a TriMet operator was stabbed at the end of his route on March 13. Union representatives have accused the DA’s office of the crimes, saying they have “zero confidence” in Schmidt.
“I don’t know that they’re going to prosecute for an assault. As far as I know, the DA’s office has either dropped the charges or taken a plea deal with a misdemeanor charge of ‘obstructing public transportation.’ ATU 757 Vice President Fred Casey told local news station KATU.
He said neighboring counties are tougher on crime, and prosecuting criminals scares people.
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Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt speaks to the media at City Hall on August 30, 2020 in Portland, Oregon. (Nathan Howard/Getty Images)
“There’s a big difference when something happens on a bus in Washington County or Clackamas County. And the response is quite different here than in Multnomah County,” Casey said.
“You shouldn’t have that level of fear of coming to work,” he added.
Schmidt’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
It’s 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 all robbery cases. The data showed that Schmidt was prosecuting fewer second- and third-degree burglary cases than his predecessor, Rod Underhill.
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Journalists board a TriMet Metropolitan Area Express (MAX) Light Rail at a stop in Portland, Oregon. Portland’s transit union says there were 170 attacks on the TriMet system in 2022. (Rebecca Smeyne/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
At the time, Schmidt defended his office’s work, denying there was a policy against prosecuting certain cases. “If we have the evidence we need, we will start these cases,” he said.
Schmidt also said more than 280 cases in Multnomah County this year have been dismissed because there weren’t enough public defenders, according to KATU. Of those cases, 75 were misdemeanors and 206 were felonies, according to his office’s case numbers.
On Tuesday, the DA announced the grand jury indictment of 28-year-old Ana Karen Perez-Velador, accused of stabbing a TriMet bus driver. Investigators say Perez-Velador stabbed the bus driver in the leg and faces eight charges, including second-degree attempted murder and second-degree assault.
While Schmidt appears to be taking action in this assault case, Casey said the union doubts Perez-Velador will be prosecuted on those charges.
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A TriMet bus passes an electrical box on the MAX rail line in Portland, Oregon. (Maranie Staab/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
“We have zero confidence, zero confidence that Mike Schmidt and his office will prosecute these people the way they should be prosecuted,” Casey said.
KATU reported that Schmidt’s office declined three interview requests, but said they were working to schedule a meeting with union representatives to discuss their concerns.
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Casey said previous meetings have not been productive.
“We’ve tried to have meetings with them, we’ve tried to discuss with them, and we’re not getting anywhere with Mike Schmidt or Ted (Wheeler). It was a different story with the Clackamas County and Washington County DAs, there were a lot of commitments and talk to them, so we don’t seem to have any prosecution issues in those two counties that we do in Multnomah,” Casey said.
Fox News’ Jon Brown contributed to this report.
Chris Pandolfo is a writer for Fox News Digital. Send tips to email@example.com and follow @ChrisCPandolfo on Twitter.