(Photo courtesy of Metro)

The Santa Monica Police Department has scheduled two meetings in January to discuss the Expo Line safety with the community.

The meetings will be led by SMPD and Metro personnel and involve tips for staying safe while walking, biking or driving near the Expo Line.

“The reason that we think [the meetings are] important is because we want to make sure people are safe and we realize this is a big change in the daily lives of our residents and people who work here because we haven’t had a train here in 50 years,” SMPD crime prevention coordinator Lauralee Asch said.

“We’ve already been doing a lot to inform the public, but we reached out to our partners at Metro to create the presentation, the majority of which will be Q&A.”

Expo trains have been undergoing tests along the extended track from Culver City to Santa Monica in recent months. The extended line is expected to be open to passengers by mid-2016.

“Even though the train is not open they are up and running in testing mode. And the same rules apply when the train is testing as when it is running. So we have to start safe practices now,” Asch said.

In December, an Expo Line train being tested in Santa Monica derailed after hitting a truck at the intersection of Colorado Avenue and 7th Street.

The crash marked the first major incident involving a train in Santa Monica since testing began on the local portions of the light-rail track, which connects to downtown Los Angeles.

Though this accident elicited Expo Line safety concerns in the community, Asch said this meeting has been in the works for months and is not related to the incident.

“It’s a continuation of [SMPD’s] educational outreach,” Asch said.

The presentation will include general information about the Expo and specific safety information. Asch said that the target audience for the meeting is anyone who lives, works or happens to be in Santa Monica, but will have information most pertinent to residents.

“We want to cover as much information as we can. We don’t want to impact people’s lives by having a three-hour meeting. But we want to be able to address our safety concerns: illegal driving, biking and walking behaviors that our officers have already seen.”

The meetings will be held Wednesday, Jan. 20 at Virginia Avenue Park, Thelma Terry Center (2200 Virginia Ave.) from 7 – 8 p.m. and Wednesday, Jan. 27 at the Main Library, MLK Auditorium (601 Santa Monica Blvd.) from 7 – 8 p.m.

For more information, call SMPD Community Affairs at (310) 458-8474.

jennifer@www.smdp.com