Watch above: Edmonton police and transit police will now share a full-time beat. Eric Szeto reports.
EDMONTON – Edmonton police and the Edmonton Transit System are ramping up enforcement on the LRT in hopes of increasing passenger safety and security.
The trial project will see four EPS officers and four ETS peace officers paired in two-person teams, patrolling the northern stretch of the LRT on a daily basis.
“I think that our customers out there will find value from it, having a secure and enhanced system. This isn’t something we would do if there was no need,” said ETS Customer Safety and Security Superintendent Marvin Chick.
The project — called Transit and Police Partnership (TAPP) — has been in the works for a few months, but Ward 7 City Councillor Tony Caterina says a post-Canada Day brawl at Coliseum Station once again triggered the need for increased enforcement.
“We’ve seen the incidents happen… we need that presence there on an ongoing basis,” said Caterina.
This isn’t the first time an incident like this has happened; back in May, another attack was caught on camera.
A video taken on an ETS train captured a young woman behaving in a bizarre manner before attacking a fellow passenger.
READ MORE: Edmonton ETS train attack caught on video
And in December 2012, a 29-year-old man died following a vicious, unprovoked attack on an LRT train.
City and transit officials maintain the LRT system is safe, but say violent incidents tend to stick in people’s minds.
“Perceptions are important,” said Chick. “I think that the high uniformed presence will change perceptions and hopefully proactively reduce the number of incidents on the system.”
Every day, about 100,000 people ride the LRT. And with an ever-growing city, the new Metro Line set to open and increasing LRT ridership, police say the increased presence is needed to keep disorderly behaviour at bay.
“Edmonton is rapidly becoming a major, metropolitan city, whose residents are increasingly depending on public transportation to get around. An increased police presence in the LRT is a logical progression,” said Staff Sgt. Gary Beaulieu, EPS Downtown Beats.
The project will run until mid-December, but already officials are hopeful it will continue, with an even larger officer presence.
According to Edmonton Transit, in 2013 there were 287 criminal incidents and 4,534 city bylaw offences on the LRT and at various stations.
With files from Eric Szeto, Global News.
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