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TransLink Podcast: What’s it like to walk the beat with Transit Police?

TransLink Podcast: What’s it like to walk the beat with Transit Police?

Come behind the scenes with us as What’s the T: the TransLink Podcast with Jawn Jang reveals the voices and stories that drive Metro Vancouver’s transit system forward. Subscribe and listen everywhere you get your podcasts, including SpotifyApple PodcastsPocket Casts, and Google Podcasts!

On this episode, follow the unique career trajectories of its Chief Officer Suzanne Muir and Constable Travis Blair. Muir started on the soccer pitch and is a Canada Soccer Hall of Famer. Tune in for a glimpse of what it’s like to walk the beat as a member of the Metro Vancouver Transit Police.


HOST JAWN JANG: Hey, welcome to What’s the T, the TransLink podcast. I’m your host, Jawn Jang. And here’s what’s coming up on this episode.


JAWN: It’s time to meet the new Chief Officer of Transit Police. Let’s tap in to What’s the T?


VOICEOVER 1: The next station is…

VOICEOVER 2: Welcome to What’s the T, the TransLink podcast.

JAWN: Metro Vancouver is truly one of a kind. Even geographically speaking, we are where the mountains meet the ocean. A true slice of heaven, especially during those unforgiving Canadian winters. But aside from just the natural landscapes, Metro Vancouver is truly unique from every other city in Canada because we have our own police force solely dedicated to transit. Now you won’t find that in Toronto, Montreal, Calgary, Edmonton or anywhere else.

The Metro Vancouver Transit Police was formed in December of 2005 and has grown into a police force of over 180 officers and 80 civilian staff members. So, what makes Transit Police different from any other police agency in Canada? To help answer that, let’s meet the newest chief officer for Transit Police, that is Chief Suzanne Muir. Chief Muir, before we really get into the, you know, the nitty gritty details of what it’s like to be the Chief of the Metro Vancouver Police agency, we’d like to get to know you as a person a little bit.

And one of the most fascinating facts about you, Chief Muir, is that you are an inductee into the Canada Soccer Hall of Fame. I mean, that is pretty remarkable because I rarely get to meet people where I can say you’re a Hall of Famer. So, first of all, just take us through what that meant for you when you kind of got that phone call one day saying, “Hey, you’re going to go into the Hall of Fame.” What was that like?

CHIEF OFFICER SUZANNE MUIR: Yeah, I mean, it was definitely a very memorable moment, unexpected one, and one that was quite meaningful. And I think the meaningfulness came in the manner it occurred as well. Soccer Canada was very thoughtful in the way that it occurred. And it was a former teammate who had actually been my, I was her first roommate when she joined.

JAWN: Oh wow, yeah.

CHIEF MUIR: Karina Leblanc. And she was just able to really share kind of the impacts that, you know, us playing together, being on the team that had on her as an individual and in her career. And it just it was just such a meaningful way to find out.

JAWN: Absolutely. I mean, it’s about building those connections. And one of the benefits of playing sports is that you build those connections with teammates, coaches, you know, parents that help support you when you’re starting out. So, I really do appreciate that it was a former teammate who can kind of share the good news there with you, talking about your professional career, you started with the Vancouver Police Department. What drew you to the lifestyle and career of wanting to be a police officer?

CHIEF MUIR: You know, to me, what I anticipate did or thought policing would be is really what it became. And it’s that whole component of teamwork, camaraderie. It’s an ever-changing career where you’re continually learning. So, I often draw the parallel with education. It’s so many careers within a career, and it was really that dynamic nature that really drew me to it, and team.

JAWN: You then joined Metro Vancouver Transit Police a little bit earlier in 2023, Deputy Chief Officer. What made you feel like the Transit Police was the right next step for you in your journey?

CHIEF MUIR: Yeah. So, I had an incredible opportunity to come to Transit Police on a secondment from Vancouver Police. And what I found out very, very quickly upon being here is it’s a really special organization. And by that, I mean in terms of the specialization of work we do, the uniqueness in terms of the multi-jurisdictional approach. But the biggest and hugest component is the people, and a very kind of, organization that that is smaller in size, very family oriented. And that really was something that made me appreciate the organization and really made me want to stay and be a part of it.

JAWN: I’m curious because I’m sure there’s going to be people listening who just might not know what makes Transit Police unique and different from other, perhaps, I would call it more standard police agencies like Vancouver Police, Delta Police, RCMP, even We are, you know, a transit police force. So if you could maybe briefly describe to listeners who just maybe don’t have an understanding of what that’s like, what makes your role at Transit Police and just Transit Police in general stand out from some of the other agencies?

CHIEF MUIR: Yeah. So primarily the difference is obviously a very multi-jurisdictional agency through 21 jurisdictions, which makes it very unique. You know, we’re, the manner that we’re providing public safety in the various forms of transportation. So, you know, it’s not just limited to one mode of transportation, it’s all the various transportation provisions that TransLink does provide. So, it’s very unique. So, it requires a lot of inter agency communication as well as involve men in communication within the enterprise in terms of how we respond.

JAWN: And there might be some people who then listen to that and say, “Okay, that’s great because that’s kind of neat. But how come then there isn’t a Transit Police officer in every bus, every SkyTrain, SeaBus, West Coast Express, all the different modes of transportation that you’re referring to?”

CHIEF MUIR: Yeah. So, you know, there’s lots of different safety, you know, provisions that we have in place for people to be able to contact through our texting number and or other safety things that are on the various systems. It’s not possible for a police officer to be in every location. But I think the important thing is that there are manners and mechanisms in order to contact the police, as well as a number of other, you know, operators within the, you know, TransLink organization that are there to support, whether it be the front line SkyTrain attendants, whether it be Transit Security and or other supports in the agency.

JAWN: The Community Safety Officer program, perhaps if you can also shed some light into that.

CHIEF MUIR: Yeah, definitely. So again, when you look at being an innovative, an organization, the Community Safety Officer program is something new that’s been implemented, we very proudly just swore in our first ten Community Safety Officers earlier this year. And those individuals are out in what we call block training out on the system. And they will be graduating in this this November.

And over the next two years, the intention is to hire and have 24 of those officers. And where you can look at it, it’s a different perhaps tier of policing. The officers are not armed, but they’re out on the system to support the public, but also, you know, would deal with fare evasion and other issues as they might present, to be able to ensure the appropriate resources are provided to the public.

JAWN: I’m glad to know that there is a lot of cooperation, teamwork with organizations like Transit Security as well, just to make sure that passengers and customers feel safe at all times. And that text number, you were referring to, 87-77-77, in case people just need to jot it down, I would recommend you save it in your phone because it’s the easiest and most convenient way in the case of an emergency, if you need to quickly access it, boom, you’re going to have it right away.

You know, when we take a look at what the the game of soccer is like, obviously, it’s very athletic. It keeps you in shape. But were there transferable skills as you started your career as a police officer, just maybe building the teamwork with, you know, the other officers you would be working with? Like what was that like for you having the athletic background from soccer and then eventually, you know, how helping to translate that into your professional career?

CHIEF MUIR: Yeah, I think the parallels are quite remarkable. As you mentioned, that whole concept of teamwork and really, you know, the sports is about teamwork, working together. And then I think there’s really fundamental things that you take away and learn from that in terms of leadership, you know, the ability in your face with circumstances of success and sometimes not as much. And it really teaches you how to move out of those circumstances and really grow as you as a person, as in your leadership and skills as well.

JAWN: Building adversity and character. I think those are very good things to be talking about for sure. You know, we can’t progress this conversation without any further, without mentioning the fact that you are making history because you are the first female Chief of Transit Police. And I kind of wanted to get your thoughts on how significant that really is for you and maybe just for the industry of policing in general as we want to see more diversity and more representation in the higher ranks.

CHIEF MUIR: Yeah, no, I mean, it’s I think it’s a great honor to take this position. It’s also a position of great responsibility. And when I look at it as the first, I guess, female Chief for Transit Police, I think of the importance of representation. And I look to, you know, whether it be other individuals and or the next generation, if in this role that can inspire others to achieve that, then that’s very meaningful to me.

JAWN: Yeah. And I think that I want to dig into that a little bit because when you were younger, perhaps when you were just dreaming about being a police officer, was there like a female role model that you could look to in that industry at that time? Or did you kind of have to just make your own way at that point?

CHIEF MUIR: Yeah, I’m a big proponent, you lead from where you are. And so certainly there were, although perhaps more limited individuals, you know, self-identified females and in leadership positions. But, you know, whether it be through sport or in other areas, it was always so important to have those individuals to look up to and to look onto for the future.

JAWN: Let’s get right into what your future plans are going to be for Metro Vancouver Transit Police. An exciting time because there’s a new leader here and I’m sure you’ve got a vision. So, if you could maybe just spell it out for us, what could we expect to see with Metro Vancouver Transit Police moving forward with you leading the ship?

CHIEF MUIR: Yeah. So, in terms of vision, I mean, to continue that Transit Police is the provide safety on the system and that we’re leaders in that area, and certainly in the time to come there’s lots within that for us to focus on and it’s a really exciting time. You know, some of our priorities is going to be and will always be on people. It will be on sort of relationships in in community and within TransLink and certainly the expansion that we have a lot of excitement to look forward to in the coming years with what’s occurring within TransLink.

JAWN: Of course, one of your pillars as well, because I, I know this is something you’re very passionate about is EDI, which is equity, diversity, inclusion. Now we talked a little bit about that with just your appointment as the Chief of Transit Police, but how does that now spill over into your vision and the future of Transit Police? And how are you going to integrate what you’ve learned with your passion and EDI background and what you want to integrate here with Transit Police?

CHIEF MUIR: Yeah. So, I think with equity, diversity, inclusion, accessibility, you know, and that kind of brings that circle of sort of belonging. And really for me, that has to be interwoven into your organization in the things that you do, the way you interact within your organization as well as externally with the communities that we serve. So, it’s absolutely fundamental that we look towards inclusion and all that we do, and we keep those principles as a primary focus as we move forward.

JAWN: You talk about the people with the Metro Vancouver’s Transit Police. Certainly, one of the most well known and most beloved and respected people is your predecessor, Chief Dave Jones. And, you know, we look ahead, we’re talking now about the current present with you as the new chief and the future of your vision of what that the next few years are going to be like. But maybe we take a moment here and just pay our respects to Chief Dave Jones, who had an incredible amount of impact with many different people in this organization.

CHIEF MUIR: And thank you for this opportunity. I mean, Chief Jones, longest serving chief for Transit Police, four and a half years, significant service. And in that time, he made incredible enhancements in terms of, you know, the things that were being done within the organization. And when you look at the larger scope, 37 years in in law enforcement and just his impacts have been felt not just with Transit Police in other municipalities here in B.C. and across Canada and just a legacy of a career, and thank you for allowing me to honor that.

JAWN: Of course, I’m happy we had a chance to talk about that, because indeed, Chief Jones, look, I’ve only been with TransLink for just about a year now, but I’ve met many people here who have such great things to say about Chief Jones. I had the chance to meet him very briefly, so I absolutely can understand the kind of legacy that he does leave behind here.

Big shoes to fill, but it looks like you’re very well prepared to take on that task. I do have to ask a bit more personal if that’s okay with you.

The question is why? Why do you choose to do this career and what brings you to work every day with a smile on your face? And what is a sign that you’ve had a good day at work?

CHIEF MUIR: You know what? I think a good day at work is, is when you know you’ve made a difference. And those can come in very small ways. It could come from, you know, something that officers have been involved in and in support of community. It could be feedback from community that they’ve had a very positive experience. But you know what a good day is, is knowing when we’re continuing to advance forward and we’re continuing to make a difference in community.

JAWN: What is one thing you think that people would find most surprising about the work that you do?

CHIEF MUIR: I think the it can be quite challenging and the diversification of it.

JAWN: I like that, actually, because I think there are some people who prefer not having the same routines every day and certainly like a career in policing, I think that’s something that is different every day. And so, you deal with making a difference. You meet people, you build connections with those people and you’re helping to serve your community. And it looks different each and every time. So, I think there’s something very special about that. So, if there was like a, I hesitate to call it a beer league, but if there is a TransLink sort of beer league soccer team, can I count on you to be a part of my team?

CHIEF MUIR: As long as I can count on you to come out and play, absolutely.

JAWN: Okay, I’ll do my best. I’m just going to run up and down the field. As long as I don’t have to touch the ball, we’re going to be great.

CHIEF MUIR: We’ll make sure you get the ball too.

JAWN: Chief Muir, thank you so much for giving us some time here. Congratulations on your appointment as the new chief of Transit Police and best of luck with everything. It was a delight to get to know you here today and likewise.

CHIEF MUIR: Thank you so much.

JAWN: The future for Transit Police is bright with a thoughtful, charismatic and highly dedicated new Chief Officer, in Chief, Suzanne Muir. But what is it like to work the beat as a Transit Police officer? When we come back, will connect with Constable Travis Blair and put some real boots on the ground to see what this job actually looks like. You’re listening to What’s the T, the TransLink podcast.


JAWN: Hey, welcome back to What’s the T? The TransLink podcast. It’s Jawn Jang, and we just heard from the new Chief Officer of Transit Police Chief Suzanne Muir. Now we’re about to walk the beat with Constable Travis Blair, who’s been with Transit Police since 2017. On a soggy, rainy October morning, Travis met producer Allen and I to share what it’s like working as a Transit Police officer.

Here we are downstairs at the New Westminster Station. We’re just kind of across from where Tim Hortons is. Perhaps we should maybe get on a SkyTrain and see what it’s like as we’re riding the system. Is that okay?

COSNTABLE TRAVIS BLAIR: We can do that. Yeah.

JAWN: Now, when you’re out on a platform waiting for a train, is there anything you’re also just sort of monitoring, keeping an eye out for, or is it kind of enough? Maybe it’s more of a relaxed time? I don’t know what it’s like because I’m usually sitting on a or standing on a platform just as a customer.

CST. BLAIR: Yes, exactly. Yeah. For me, when it when it comes to uniformed presence, being an officer, being in a really high volume sort of environment like this, there’s a lot of dangers, right? The trains are dangerous platforms openly exposed. You never really know who’s around what to expect. So, for us, we’re always looking at hands and that’s kind of the biggest thing, seeing what someone is carrying, what they’re holding. If they’re concealing something because they see, you know, their hands will deliver the threat, the threat system. So just watching people always scanning, head on a swivel, watching, greeting, people, smiling, that’s a huge thing, is really officer perception interaction with the public. So, I always try to say good morning, or if I make eye contact, I’ll smile so people feel safe, they feel welcome.

JAWN: Right.

CST. BLAIR: The more you’re out here, the more you’re looking, the more you’ll find opportunities to help keep the system safe, help keep the ridership safe.

JAWN: So, this is our train. We’ll get on board.

CST. BLAIR: So, yeah, so typically, I get onto a train. I just like to have a hub, have a look outside to walk the entire train, just see if there’s any property hanging around again. Just look for opportunities to talk to somebody, see if I might stumble upon a criminal offense of some sort. Right. Or if there’s any safety concerns as well, too.

We get lots of SMS text reports and it’s great because if people feel unsafe, we were the ones that should essentially assess what that situation is. I’m prepared. I have tools, I have training, de-escalation training. So, I should be the one to kind of determine what that risk assessment is.

JAWN: For sure.

CST. BLAIR: Yeah. So, I always say to people, just, see something, say something. It’s really truthful.

JAWN: It’s a great rule and it helps.

CST. BLAIR: And it helps, yeah. Then you can keep yourself safe. You can create some distance. Either get off that train, catch next train. Some of these trains are quite long, so walk to the far end. Again, there’s safety systems in place. So, we never want passengers to put themselves at risk. It’s the last thing that we want.

JAWN: Right.


JAWN: Yeah. Now, for you personally, like you mentioned to me, you’ve been with Transit Police since 2017, correct?

CST. BLAIR: Yup, July 2017.

JAWN: Before that, you were an RMT. So, one question that we’ve got to ask is how do you go from lavender oils to being a police officer with handcuffs and everything?


JAWN: What made you make a career change of that?

CST. BLAIR: Yeah, that’s I love that quote, that’s going to follow me until the end of my life and beyond. But yeah, the common denominator is really just helping people. That’s kind of what I wanted to do. I started a bit later in my career at 37, so things like, you know, benefits, pension, those are all important to me. But it really seemed like a huge win. The biggest change for me was volunteering at the CPC in Keefer in Chinatown and just getting more exposure and getting confidence to feel like it’s something I could probably do and hopefully be good at.

JAWN: And no regrets?

CST. BLAIR: No regrets. Yeah, honestly, no regrets. As hard as it’s been seeing a different side of people because often you see people, in a negative light. But those moments, you really you get to help someone. That’s everything, you know, just knowing somebody is in despair needs help. There’s no one there for them and you can provide them that that experience for me, that goes a long way.

JAWN: So, and for you, Travis, last question, like what constitutes a good day at work? I always try to explain it like, Allen and I, we’re office rats, really. So, for us, it’s making sure our meetings were done on time. We got all of our assignments, our reports, everything’s scheduled and everything’s good to go, but that’s life for us. What’s a good day at work for you?

CST. BLAIR: Yeah, well, you know, it’s. It’s so true. I mean, some days I’m an office rat as well. What people don’t know is submitting a report to Crown Counsel or maybe dealing with property or completing some sort of forfeiture order to have property disposed of legally. That all takes a lot of time and a lot of paperwork. So successful day for me is being able to be out during the peak periods of travel.

I work 5 a.m. to 5 p.m., so I can be out for the first few hours, get a little paperwork caught up on, make my rounds to the station, depending on which customer service area I’m in, I’ll walk through the stations right a train or two, stumble upon something, whether I’m helping some people or enforcing statutes or laws and getting home on time to see family.

That’s kind of what it’s about. So, variety is the spice of life. That’s what it comes down to. And it’s why a lot of people sign up for this job as well. Just having variety, not knowing how your day is going to go, and being challenged to learning new things. That’s really kind of the best thing about policing. It’s always different.

JAWN: Thank you so much for giving us a little time, some time here today and really want to thank you for doing what you do because it’s not easy, as you explained, and we’re only really just getting a small snippet today of what it’s really like.

CST. BLAIR: Absolutely. My pleasure. Happy to be on. What’s the T today. Gladto see you again.

JAWN: Transit Police officers provide a unique and important service for the public transportation system and its customers, people like yourself right here in Metro Vancouver. Now, truth be told, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the work they do every single day to ensure that your next trip on the bus or on the SkyTrain can be safe and reliable.

The biggest takeaway from my conversation with Travis comes down to this: if you see something, say something and always text 87-77-77, if you need to report unsafe or dangerous behavior on the system. My thanks to Chief Suzanne Muir and Constable Travis Blair for their help in making this episode and all of our friends at Transit Police.

And of course, thank you for listening and subscribing. My name is Jawn Jang, and until next time, have a safe trip.


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