So far this year, Winnipeg police have responded to nearly 2,600 Transit-related ‘events’ — about 500 more than all of 2020, and 800 more than all of 2008.
Police said the events come in three categories: calls for service — which could include a well-being check; a report of a disturbance, or violence — situations involving police actively patrolling; or self-reported incidents that usually aren’t urgent or serious.
Const. Dani McKinnon is urging bus riders to stay safe, but told 680 CJOB only a small percentage of this year’s events have actually involved violence.
The police statistics also include incidents that may have taken place in a transit bay, bus shelter, or at a bus stop, as well as on a transit bus itself — and despite the recent assault of a senior on a downtown bus that made headlines, an increase in overall numbers doesn’t necessarily mean an increase in danger when using public transportation.
“The whole transit conversation is part and parcel to actually being on the bus and using those transit corridors and transit bus shelters,” McKinnon said.
“If you look at, for example, violent calls that may be dealing with an assault on a bus — we’re speaking to this because the public and the police have dealt with an incident that occurred recently — when you look at something like the violent calls, in 2021, a very small percentage, 17 per cent in total, of those overall calls are considered to be violent.
“That means police are getting to these calls and they’re resolving them and most of these calls end up being non-criminal and non-violent.”
McKinnon said many of the calls police are receiving could include someone on a bus in medical distress, or public intoxication, or even someone panhandling and causing a disturbance.
One reason the numbers may have increased, McKinnon said, is that Winnipeggers are doing a better job reporting incidents.
“I think people are more aware, I think people are more ready to call the police, I think people are more in-tune to people who need assistance,” she said.