COPS ON BOARD

Of­fi­cers spend­ing more time on buses, po­lice chief says

Winnipeg Sun - - NEWS - JOYANNE PURSAGA

Win­nipeg po­lice of­fi­cers are spend­ing more hours in and around down­town buses.

Win­nipeg Po­lice Ser­vice Chief Danny Smyth said of­fi­cers were ei­ther on buses or some­where in the down­town tran­sit cor­ri­dor for 48 hours in Novem­ber, up from 40.5 hours in Oc­to­ber and 30.5 hours in Septem­ber.

“Over time, our mem­bers are ad­just­ing the way they walk the beat. In the past, if they were to walk to City Hall here or to Red River Col­lege, they would have just walked,” said Smyth, fol­low­ing a Win­nipeg

Po­lice Board meet­ing at City Hall on Fri­day. “Now we’re ask­ing them at times to jump on the bus, take that short trip on the bus, have a pres­ence on the bus, get off and do your beat.”

Smyth said the goal to see of­fi­cers ride more buses fol­lowed pub­lic feed­back.

“It’s be­come clear from feed­back in both the com­mu­nity and, frankly, from Tran­sit that they would like to see more of a (po­lice) pres­ence,” he said. Win­nipeg Tran­sit safety con­cerns were thrown into the spot­light af­ter driver Irvine “Jubal” Fraser was killed on his bus in Fe­bru­ary 2017. The Amal­ga­mated Tran­sit Union Lo­cal 1505, which rep­re­sents Win­nipeg Tran­sit drivers, ar­gues that safety ini­tia­tives fol­low­ing Fraser’s death have made lit­tle dif­fer­ence. ATU re­cently re­ported that at least 41 as­saults against drivers have oc­curred in 2018.

Aleem Chaud­hary, lo­cal 1505’s pres­i­dent, said drivers are pleased with any in­creased po­lice pres­ence but still be­lieve a ded­i­cated group of full-time Tran­sit po­lice of­fi­cers is needed.

“We wel­come any kind of help that we can get but, ob­vi­ously, we still want a ded­i­cated po­lice (force). It’s a must,” said Chaud­hary.

The union leader said five new tran­sit in­spec­tors, who were added as a se­cu­rity pres­ence on buses this year, lack the equip­ment and train­ing they need to safely in­ter­fere with as­saults.

Chaud­hary said ded­i­cated, full-time Tran­sit po­lice could more safely in­ter­vene in violent in­ci­dents and board buses out­side of the down­town.

“We don’t just have in­ci­dents that take place in the down­town, we have

in­ci­dents (that) oc­cur all over the place,” said Chaud­hary.

Kevin Klein, chair of the Win­nipeg Po­lice Board, said he’d like to ex­plore how other cities keep their buses safe be­fore de­cid­ing if he sup­ports the ad­di­tion of Tran­sit po­lice of­fi­cers.

“Let’s find the most ef­fec­tive method and the most cost-ef­fec­tive method for Win­nipeg,” said Klein.

The city spent $1.3 mil­lion to add new Tran­sit safety mea­sures in 2018, in­clud­ing the in­spec­tors, se­cu­rity cam­eras and a pilot pro­gram to test driver safety shields. A re­port on the shields is ex­pected in early 2019.

WIN­NIPEG SUN FILES

Po­lice of­fi­cers are tak­ing the bus more of­ten as part of their du­ties, po­lice chief Danny Smyth says.

CP FILES

Po­lice in­ves­ti­gate the scene of the fa­tal stab­bing of bus driver Irvine “Jubal” Fraser in Fe­bru­ary 2017.

DANNY SMYTH

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