SPOKANE, Wash. – The latest assault on board a Spokane Transit Authority bus happened in early March when a passenger punched a driver.

That incident is just one of five to happen so far in 2017, up from a total of three assaults reported by STA for all of 2016.

STA has completed a review of past incidents since 2012, a total of 22, and is in the process of improving their processes and procedures to prevent further occurrences.

“The results of that process will be integrated into Advanced Training for operators in de-escalation and defensive techniques,” said Beth Bousley, the Director of Communications and Customer Service for STA. “We are also investigating other physical deterrents such as more cameras and driver shields.”

STA representatives said that they classify assaults as anything ranging from verbal assaults to spitting.

However, Bousley said their transit vehicles have equipment that will help prevent further assaults and catch the offender in the case that an assault does happen.

“Our security systems make it very likely that an offender would be caught and prosecuted,” said Bousley.

These security systems include constant GPS on vehicles, roving security patrols, mechanisms for operators to send alerts in emergency situations and security personnel on random routes.

The next meeting for STA to discuss future changes is scheduled for Wednesday, June 7.