The City of Edmonton will soon be deploying joint-operational teams on public transit in hopes of once again increasing safety on the system.
Starting in early May, teams of additional police and Transit Peace Officers will be deployed on the transit system to conduct dedicated, proactive patrols. The city said where the teams are being placed will be based on intelligence-led data.
These teams will be in addition to the transit peace officers who regularly patrol the transit network.
“Safety will always be our top priority at the city, and we’re continuing to take action, along with our community partners, to help Edmontonians remain safe in our community and on transit,” city manager Andre Corbould said in a media release.
“Since the pandemic began, we have been working day in and day out on enhancing safety measures in our public spaces, and we will continue to amplify efforts to keep Edmontonians and staff safe.”
Starting this summer, a community outreach transit team model will see Transit Peace Officers and outreach workers work together to assist people who need help securing appropriate housing, social support services, mental health supports and basic needs like food and clothing.
The outreach team model is a two-year pilot program.
“There is a large team of cross-functional staff working on these security challenges daily, and we are fully committed to providing a safe transit network and transit experience for Edmontonians and staff,” said Carrie Hotton-MacDonald, branch manager of Edmonton Transit Service (ETS).
“Our highest priority is the safety of the community, transit riders and transit staff.”
The most recent measures are the latest in a series of moves the city has made to try and make transit safer for users.
Earlier this year, additional security guards were deployed at select transit centres to provide extra surveillance. In March, the city said it conducted public engagement sessions at some transit facilities to help provide more safety information.
The EPS also deploys proactive policing on the transit system.
The safety measures come after a number of attacks on the transit system and at transit stations in the city.
Last weekend, police said a man was verbally harassed, assaulted and stabbed in the arm after getting off a train at the University LRT Station.
Police said the incident happened at around 9:30 p.m. Saturday. The suspect fled the area but was later arrested in the area of University Avenue and 114 Street.
David Durocher, 30, has been charged with aggravated assault and two counts of possession of a weapon.
There were also a series of attacks on Black women wearing hijabs at Edmonton transit stations over several months earlier this year.
On Thursday, the city said data from March 2021 shows that more than 80 per cent of incidents on transit are related to loitering, not wearing a mask or face covering and trespassing.
About 19 per cent are related to things like smoking and liquor violations, parking violations, littering and mischief, the city said.
Less than one per cent of offences are committed against another person, the city said.
Information from the city shows that 7,670 warnings were issued by Transit Peace Officers in March 2021. That’s up from 4,461 warnings issued the month before.
However, proactive patrols on the transit system also increased in March 2021 to 4,932. That’s up from 3,240 in February 2021.
In March, Transit Peace Officers issued 423 tickets, up from 258 in February, 323 in January and 339 in December 2020.
A number of additional safety measures in place along the transit system and at stations include:
- Security guards are onsite at 21 transit centres and LRT stations
- Customers can text/call Transit Watch at 780-442-4900. Texting is a discreet way to report
- Emergency blue phones at all transit centres/LRT stations connect to the ETS Control Centre
- Red push buttons and yellow stripes on trains connect directly to the train operator
- Over 3,800 security cameras monitor transit service across the system