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Metro Transit PD chief helps woman struggling with mental health issues while WCCO camera rolls

Metro Transit focused on creating safe experience for Twins fans during home opener
Metro Transit focused on creating safe experience for Twins fans during home opener 02:08

MINNEAPOLIS -- Metro Transit is focused on creating a safe experience for fans taking the light rail to Friday's Twins home opener.

While speaking Tuesday with Metro Transit Police Chief Ernest Morales III, WCCO cameras saw firsthand his approach toward safety: connecting people in need with resources.

RELATED: Metro Transit's new police chief promises beleaguered agency's "brightest chapter yet"

A woman approached Morales on the Target Field light rail platform, clearly struggling with mental health issues. She told him she wanted to lie on the tracks in front of an oncoming train.

"We can send you to a hospital, get you somewhere warm where they'll feed you, but I definitely don't want you out here with those thoughts in your head," Morales told her. "One thing I won't assist you with is harming yourself. I can't allow that to happen."

She walked away after several minutes of conversation, refusing his offers of help.

"We can't force individuals to seek services, and this is a frustrating situation when we want to help," Morales said. "We need more services for the homeless population, but especially mentally-incapacitated individuals."  

Chief Ernest Morales III CBS

Morales took more time with her, and she eventually allowed him to make a call. Minutes later, she was in an ambulance.

Since coming on the job last month, Morales says he's installed outreach teams that include organizations beyond just police at the Mall of America and Lake Street/Midtown stations. He says they've made contact with 140 people and placed 36.

"I'm excited about this endeavor," Morales said. "It's something that we're going to increase and move around the system."

Metro Transit says outreach teams will be going to Brooklyn Center next.

For Friday's Twins game, the plan includes the visible presence of Metro Transit police and staff.

"I can't promise you that it's not going to be an uncomfortable ride," Morales said. "You may see something unpleasant, but I can promise you this: it's not dangerous."

RELATED: WCCO cameras capture flagrant drug use on Metro Transit light rail trains

Morales says he's been riding the trains himself and gathering input from staff and riders in order to "come up with long-term, pragmatic solutions to the issues that we're dealing with on a daily basis."

If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, there is help available. You can call or text 988 at any time to reach the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline where you'll find free and confidential support.

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