RTA ambassadors and other passengers wait for the Red Line train at the Ohio City station.
RTA ambassadors and other passengers wait for the Red Line train at the Ohio City station on Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2023. Ambassadors go through stations making sure ticket kiosks and elevators work, greeting riders and offering to help people. Credit: Stephanie Casanova / Signal Cleveland

My first story for Signal Cleveland was about Cleveland’s expansion of co-response teams – where an officer partners with a social worker to respond to or follow up on mental health-related calls. Since then, I’ve written about both co-response and care response – teams that respond to mental health crises without police – in Cleveland. But I had yet to write about the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority’s crisis intervention teams, which include co-response and ambassadors. 

RTA introduced ambassadors and co-response teams to its police department a year ago in September of 2022. I thought the one-year mark was a great opportunity to talk to team members and learn how the program works. 

After talking to the crisis intervention team commander, one of the co-response social workers and an ambassador, I wanted to see for myself what being an ambassador was all about. On Wednesday morning, I joined Ebony Allen and two of her co-workers for a couple of hours. We met at the 25th Street Ohio City Red Line station, where they made sure the elevator was working, told a guy he wasn’t allowed to smoke on the platform, and asked another guy to step back from the edge. Then, we hopped on a westbound train to the Puritas station. 

Read on to learn more about the ride-along.

Signal background

Suggested Reading

Criminal Justice Reporter (she/her)
Stephanie, who covered criminal justice and breaking news at the Chicago Tribune, is a bilingual journalist with a passion for storytelling that is inclusive and reflects the diversity of the communities she covers. She has been a reporter and copy editor for local newspapers in South Dakota, Kansas and Arizona. Stephanie is also a Maynard 200 alumni, a Maynard Institute for Journalism Education training program for journalists of color that focuses on making newsrooms more equitable, diverse and anti-racist.