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After stabbing, TARC pays more than $22,000 for security officers

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TARC spent more than $22,000 to hire off-duty police officers in the four weeks after a deadly stabbing aboard a city bus. TARC spent more than $22,000 to hire off-duty police officers in the four weeks after a deadly stabbing aboard a city bus.
Metro Councilman Kelly Downard Metro Councilman Kelly Downard
Councilman David James Councilman David James

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Louisville's bus agency spent more than $22,000 to hire off-duty police officers in the four weeks after a deadly stabbing aboard a city bus.

At least 13 Metro Police officers have expressed interest in working for TARC on a part-time basis, according to records obtained by WAVE 3 News under Kentucky's open records law.

TARC administrators earlier this month decided to hire armed, uniformed off-duty police officers to ride its buses on high-priority routes. The extra security has cost at least $22,460, and the spending continues.

"We will continually be monitoring and evaluating security and will spend to the level appropriate within budget restrictions," said Kay Stewart, a TARC spokeswoman.

The money is coming out of the bus agency's operating budget for now, Stewart said.

On March 16, a teenager was stabbed while riding a bus on Broadway. The incident sparked mob violence downtown, and Metro officials have responded by spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on security cameras, police overtime and, most recently, off-duty officers on city buses.

The bus security cost is a high number, but it's not a knee-jerk reaction to the stabbing, said Metro Councilman Kelly Downard, a Republican who's on the budget committee.

"What we have to do to ensure safety should not cost $22,000 a month, but we'll see," Downard said. "(The violence) needed an immediate reaction and an immediate response - I would support (the spending)."

TARC is paying the off-duty officers $25 an hour for the work.

The cost of the extra security will come down over the next several weeks, council members predicted.

"As they work through which buses need to have the officers on board, I'm sure those numbers will adjust," said Councilman David James, a Democrat who rode TARC buses twice after the violence to check security for himself.

The council wouldn't "run away from" providing a budget increase to the bus agency for extra security, James said.

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