How is it Crime Met still refuses to add armed security aboard light rail and at major transit stations, yet City Hall and the Portland Bureau of Transportation still cling to ex-Mayor Neil Goldschmuck's psychedelic vision of a carless utopia? Can't have it both ways. —Mad MAX

I have to say, MAX, I'm a little surprised someone so apparently mistrustful of public institutions is so eager to turn our public transit system into a police state, but let's explore.

Assuming 16 hours of service for each train and station per day, putting a guard at every station and on every train would require adding roughly 680 cops to the current force of 62 sworn officers (plus around 30 outside contractors).

That's $50 million a year just in payroll—and, of course, these new cops would also need cars and radios and uniforms and buildings to work in (and don't even get me started on pensions). Call it $100 million altogether.

That pencils out to a fare increase of roughly two bucks a ride, which I suspect would go over like a fart in church with transit riders—especially since many feel that more transit cops just mean more harassment for riders of color ("Crime-Fighting Train," WW, June 7, 2017).

I'm not in a position to evaluate such claims conclusively (though I wouldn't exactly be shocked). But it does seem cops, God love them, try to stay busy even when the public good might be better served by having them spend their shift watching TV and eating doughnuts.

Japan, for example, continues to add cops even though crime rates there have been plummeting for 15 years. This has led to things like five officers responding to a call about a pair of panties being stolen off a clothesline, a weeklong stakeout of a case of beer left in an unlocked car and, less comically, extensive surveillance of Tokyo's quite law-abiding Muslim population.

To be honest, what you're calling for sounds a lot like "security theater"—highly visible "policing" that makes us feel safer without actually accomplishing anything. Absent a stray $100 million, perhaps you'd settle for having us outfit every train with its own Elf on a Shelf?