Sun Tran uses police to train its drivers

Sun Tran deployed the Tucson Police Department for hands on training on how to diffuse a situation before it escalates into violence.

53,000 people ride the Sun Tran transit system every day and some of them may not be having a good day.

"Whether the bus is late, they don't have the fare or they burned their toast this morning," Sun Tran GM Steve Spade. "By using the police department, its another way of starting or continuing a discussion."

Even though millions of people ride the transit system every day, only about 30 times last year did situations escalate to the point where police or the Sun Tran front office had to be notified.

"One is too many," Spade said.

But in reality, it today's more stressful times, its a surprise it doesn't happen more often.

"We get people who are upset everyday," said Pauline Garcia, a 16 year driver who helps teach beginning drivers some of the techniques to diffuse situations.

"Speak in a lower tone of voice," she said. "It's amazing but it works."

She says the police training helped remind her to control her voice and look with "soft eyes."

If your eyes bulge and you speak angrily at a customer who is having a bad day, the situation will quickly get out of hand.

"By using a lower tone of voice, even if the person continues to use a loud voice, continue to use a lower voice," she said. "They come down to your level."

Not every situation will be diffused by soft talk and soft eyes, but in 16 years, Garcia says she has never had to call for assistance.