Capital Metro board approves charter for public safety advisory committee

The committee will provide input on Capital Metro's expanded public safety department to the transit agency's board of directors.  (Courtesy Capital Metro)
The committee will provide input on Capital Metro's expanded public safety department to the transit agency's board of directors. (Courtesy Capital Metro)

The committee will provide input on Capital Metro's expanded public safety department to the transit agency's board of directors. (Courtesy Capital Metro)

The Capital Metro board of directors unanimously approved the public safety advisory committee charter during an Oct. 25 meeting.

The advisory committee will consist of 10 members, with eight board-appointed members, one retired law enforcement professional and one representative from the Amalgamated Transit Union. They will provide input on a range of public safety issues.

“You cannot move forward with creating a committee without this crucial first step,” Capital Metro Chief Safety Officer Gardner Tabon said.

Capital Metro unveiled details for an expanded public safety department in August. The plan would establish a transit police force, as well as unarmed public safety officers and community intervention specialists, who would focus on social service issues.

Tabon said Capital Metro intends to only use the police officers when necessary. He added that the community intervention specialists began full operations in October.


The creation of a police force met resistance during Capital Metro’s August board meeting when groups including the Austin Justice Coalition, Just Liberty, People United for Mobility Action and Planning Our Communities gave public comment against it.

Awais Azhar, a member of the Planning Our Communities leadership team, said that some of his concerns about the committee had been addressed. However, he added that he wanted the charter to include greater opportunity for the committee to provide input to the board of directors and oversight of the police force, as well as adding a police justice advocate to the committee to balance the retired law enforcement member.

Azhar said he felt those changes would, “set us up for success and allow us to build trust with the community on this important issue.”

Board members said they were grateful for staff’s efforts to quickly produce the charter document, a request made during the August meeting.

“I know that you've done a lot of work to get this to us fast, and it's very much appreciated and I know you've been working with the public on it,” said Council Member Ann Kitchen, who also sits on the Capital Metro board of directors.

According to Capital Metro documents, applications for the public safety advisory committee will open Nov. 1, and the first meeting will be held in January.
By Benton Graham

Metro Reporter, Austin

Benton joined Community Impact Newspaper as a metro reporter covering transportation in Central Texas in June 2021. Benton's writing has appeared in Vox, The Austin Chronicle, Austonia and Reporting Texas. Originally from Minneapolis, Benton graduated from William & Mary and eventually moved to Austin in 2018.