ETS adds more security, including police officer patrols, to transit stations
EDMONTON -- Edmonton transit centers and LRT stations will see more security guards and increased transit peace officer and police patrols to better guarantee safety of transit users.
In a press conference on Thursday, the city announced the additional safety measures as well as increasing social supports and education for vulnerable populations.
There will be security guards at 19 transit centers and LRT stations. In the next few weeks ETS will gradually increase the amount of security guards and 15 locations will now have two security guards present.
Additionally, transit peace officers will be “more visible.” They will have additional shifts and staff proactively patrolling transit centers and LRT stations.
ETS plans to unveil further public awareness and bystander awareness education programs in the “near future” to help better equip transit riders about what to do if they see something suspicious or how to reach out if they require support.
TRANSIT SECURITY TOP PRIORITY FOR ETS: TRANSIT MANAGER
According to Carrie Hotton-MacDonald, branch manager for ETS, ensuring transit remains secure is a top priority.
“Safe and secure access to transit service is a priority and it’s really key for us in order to recover transit ridership”
Hotton-MacDonald said Transit Watch, the real-time safety concern phone and text line for ETS, has seen an average of seven incidents per day reported since November of 2020.
For Hotton-MacDonald, guaranteeing safe transit does not just mean enforcement but finding holistic solutions to support and educate transit users while not penalizing vulnerable populations like homeless people.
“It’s also been a year of learning and developing a deeper understanding of how layered solutions are needed in order to continue improving safety and security in our public spaces and in transit.”
CITY SAYS TRANSIT PEACE OFFICERS' ENFORCEMENT TO FOCUS ON EDUCATION, COMPASSION, AND UNDERSTANDING
David Aitken, City of Edmonton branch manager in charge of oversight of peace officers, said that integrated EPS and transit peace officer patrols will be deployed based on data analytics.
“Everyone needs to feel safe while using transit. We’ve created a plan for a more visible presence of transit peace officers with support from our partners at the EPS and contracted security.”
This enhanced deployment approach will be in effect for several months and “monitored” on an ongoing basis.
Aitken added that the approach to enforcement actions taken by transit peace officers will focus on education, compassion, and understanding first.
“Every interaction with an Edmontonian begins with a respectful conversation, education and, where it’s needed, providing help and support,“ Aitken said. “However, enforcement may be necessary in some situations to protect public safety and the safety of the individual. Every situation is different, and our officers are well trained in determining the appropriate action.”
According to Aitken, between 2019-20 transit peace officers issued 57 per cent fewer tickets for bylaw infractions and between October 2019 and the end of 2020 there has been a 400 per cent increase in officers rendering assistance instead of issuing tickets or warning, including referrals to social agencies.
Transit peace officers will continue to receive “enhanced training” and Aitken said they will be working with the city’s anti-racism advisory committee to ensure their practices reflect best standards.
Hotton-MacDonald said safety is an evolving issue and that more work will continue to be done to ensure the safety of ETS users.
“We know that there is more work to do. We are listening to our communities and we will be developing further actions. We are continuing to work collaboratively to implement this integrated approach [to safety].”