Calgary Transit doubling peace officers in ‘security blitz’

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Calgary Transit doubling peace officers in ‘security blitz’
In an effort to reduce incidents of social disorder, Calgary Transit has begun increasing officer presence across the network. Adam MacVicar reports. – Mar 15, 2021

Peace officer patrols have been stepped up in Calgary’s LRT system to help address social disorder.

Monday morning, Doug Morgan, general manager of Calgary’s transportation department, told city council that the patrols have been doubled, going from 30 to 60 officers per day.

“Since we last reported on February 8, we continue to experience social disorder issues on the C-train system,” Morgan said. “The combination of closure of other public spaces and the drop-in ridership have contributed to the issue.”

Major incidents like assaults on the city’s LRT system are down during the coronavirus pandemic, but incidents captured on social media like drug use or smoking on trains are more visible thanks to lower ridership.

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“This stuff has the (potential) of perception becoming reality,” Mayor Naheed Nenshi said. “If people think it’s not safe, they don’t take (transit) and then it becomes less safe.

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“And so I pushed hard over the last couple of weeks to say, ‘Let’s do a blitz. Let’s get more people on. Let’s just help people feel safer.’”

The second phase of the heightened response begins Monday, March 22, with Calgary Transit working with officers from the city’s community standards and corporate security departments, as well as Calgary Police Service officers, augmenting the Transit peace officers.

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“Phase three will begin with the hiring of contracted security service providers to provide increased visibility and instant reporting, enabling police officers to focus on other areas,” Morgan said.

Funding for the additional patrols and security officers will come from the city’s COFLEX program, rapid pandemic-related funding the city received from the Alberta and federal governments.

Transit will also work in conjunction with community services like the DOAP Team and the Bear Clan Patrol, to help members of vulnerable populations get help they need during what Nenshi calls a “safety blitz.”

“If there are certain chronic individuals who have challenges who are causing the trouble, let’s get them the help they need rather than have them existing just on the system,” the mayor said.

“I’m cautiously optimistic that we’ve got the plan right, but certainly we’re going to be revisiting it constantly.”

The added security will be in place for between six and 10 months, the city said.

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