CHOKEPOINTS

Violent crime plagues Sound Transit’s Mount Baker station

Dec 9, 2021, 4:57 AM
Sound Transit Mount Baker...
A Sound Transit light rail train in the Mount Baker area. (City of Seattle)
(City of Seattle)

Sound Transit has stepped up its security measures after recent shootings at the Mount Baker station, and emergency calls at the new Northgate station.

Northgate light rail station opens as Sound Transit forges ahead on expansion

Two people have been killed at the Mount Baker light rail station since June 2021. One was a fatal shooting. The other was a fatal stabbing, after a person who was shot then stabbed his attacker. Guns were fired a third time when two groups of people exchanged fire, but no one was injured.

Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff told board members recently that there is no indication people were using light rail just to cause problems at the Mount Baker station, which is at the intersection of Martin Luther King Jr. Way and Rainier Avenue. Rogoff believes violence in the community is spilling onto the property.

“We have taken a combination of near-term actions and our launching a series of long-term, to increase our security patrols around the station,” Rogoff said.

Ken Cummins, Sound Transit’s director of public safety, said the increased patrols started in June.

“In response to the first homicide, we increased our security patrols to six per shift or 12 patrols per day by our mobile security provider,” Cummins told board members. “The increase in security patrols is a permanent increase and will continue.”

The agency ramped up security again after the latest homicide, which was on Nov. 21.

“We further increased our security presence by putting a contract security officer at the station to the maximum extent possible of 24 hours a day and seven days a week,” he said. “We will be maintaining that position through the end of the year, at which time we will reevaluate the effectiveness.”

But adding that security post at the Mount Baker station wasn’t the only recent change. King County deputies assigned to Sound Transit are also increasing their patrols, both in uniform and under cover.

“Deputies will be spending a considerable block of time at each station, on foot, in specific areas of focus,” Cummins said. “These blocks of time will equal at least five hours in each 24-hour period but will be spread out, randomized, and even occasionally overlapping.”

Sound Transit charts its path ahead facing $6.5 billion budget hole

Cummins says Sound Transit has been working to add much better lighting at the station to help deter crime. Those lights were supposed to be installed already, but some of the parts have been delayed because of the worldwide supply chain issues.

While there have been two murders and three shootings at the Mount Baker station since June 2021, it is actually not the station that generates the most “security events,” as Sound Transit calls them.

The Tukwila/International Boulevard station is by far the most active, followed by the Federal Way Transit Center, and the Angle Lake light rail station.

Somewhat surprising is that the new Northgate station is fourth on the list, but Rogoff said this was anticipated.

“In the first 47 days since opening Northgate, we have had more than 160 security and safety calls, specifically related to the restrooms at Northgate,” Rogoff said. “To ensure that our restrooms remain usable and accessible for our passengers there, we’ve increased security and we’re exploring what additional security measures will happen.”

What does this all mean for Sound Transit customers? You should expect to see a lot more security around stations, garages, and parking lots as the agency works to deter crime on its property.

Check out more of Chris’ Chokepoints.

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Violent crime plagues Sound Transit’s Mount Baker station