▶️ Bend’s bus system considers changes after driver’s arrest

By HEATHER ROBERTS
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY

Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council Executive Director Tammy Baney said she is still coming to terms with what happened last week on a Cascades East Transit bus.

Last week, Michael Brinster, a bus driver, dragged a passenger out of a bus in a chokehold after the passenger boarded the bus without wearing shoes. COIC manages the bus system.

Baney said she’s troubled by the choices made by Brinster on Aug. 20.

“I don’t expect everyone to be perfect, but I do have an expectation that we will be working with compassion and with professionalism and that was not what I observed, in the very least,” Baney said.

Per Cascades East Transit policy, drivers are not supposed to engage with riders. If a problem arises, drivers are supposed to radio a dispatcher for help or call 911.

Brinster instead yelled at the passenger, using profanities, and choked the passenger to the point of passing out.

Brinster was hired in March 2018 by Paratransit services, a CET contractor.

A company representative said a pre-employment background failed to reveal Brinster’s 2013 felony convictions for criminal mistreatment and identity theft.

Brinster was fired from his job yesterday.

Baney said the incident reaffirms COIC’s commitment to change its contracting process.

“We will be embedding diversity, equity and inclusion, and looking at ways that we also improve upon our ability to reach those that are underserved,” Baney said.

Baney said 23 of 115 employees have signed up to take part in a new committee that will look at contract language, training and sensitivity.

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