Posts tagged: Transit Police
On November 21, at the Canadian Urban Transit Association Conference in Toronto, Metro Vancouver Transit Police Sergeant Wendy Hawthorne will receive the 2018 Leadership Award in Excellence to acknowledge the benefits our transit system has gained thanks to her specialized expertise in graffiti on transit. We caught up with Wendy for an interview before she heads off into retirement at the end of this year.
From a young age, Constable Leanne Smith, Police Dog Handler with Metro Vancouver Transit Police aspired to do the very job she does today. Cliché perhaps, but growing up with dogs of her own fostered an admiration and appreciation for the canine cop role.
Happy Hallow’s Eve from all of us here at TransLink!
Halloween is a fun and exciting time for kids and adults alike and safety is paramount whether you’re heading out on foot, personal vehicle or via transit. The forecast is calling for a clear and dry evening of tricks and treats.
Our friends at Transit Police have six tips to help you stay safe on transit:
This annual event takes place at Kitsilano beach in Vancouver, with the support of other police agencies and organizations, Polar Plunge participants are #FreezinForAReason raising money in support of adults and children with intellectual disabilities providing the opportunity to participate and excel in sporting activities.
Transit Police have supported Special Olympics BC in a variety of ways over the past number of years, from fundraising through the BC Law Enforcement Torch Run, an overtime drive for personal donation by staff, an annual golf tournament and of course this event – the Polar Plunge.
Transit Police surpassed their fundraising goal for this event, however if you’re interested in giving back and supporting a great cause or learning more, check out the Transit Police Polar Plunge page.
Author: Sarah Kertcher
Every year, TransLink participates in Take your Kids to Work Day.
Kids aged 14 are invited to job shadow their parents or come along on a guided tour at BCRTC, CMBC and Transit Police to explore future workplace opportunities.
This year we had 52 grade nine students take part in this event and it was a big success and not just the day!
The Canada’s Outstanding Employer Award recognizes employers for their outstanding performance and contribution to Take Our Kids to Work day activities.
Criteria for the award includes:
- Promoting the importance of staying in school
- Promoting pursuing post-secondary studies
- Demonstrating creativity and innovation through engaging and exciting activities for visiting students
- Supporting and explaining career choices and benefits of early career exploration
It was a very competitive process, but TransLink, along with 14 other outstanding organizations, stood out to the selections committee.
TransLink and its operating companies were chosen “For providing students with engaging and interactive opportunities to explore career options and learn about TransLink, Coast Mountain Bus Company, BCRTC and Transit Police as a future workplace. Students were given a tour of TransLink’s new Mark III train and received an in-depth look at technology that powers TransLink trains. They even got the opportunity to work with a K9 unit in Transit Police and the Fire Prevention Technicians that oversees fire prevention across the transit network.”
TransLink is honoured as an Enterprise to accept Canada’s Outstanding Employer 2016 Award for our participation in this annual event of fun, learning and exploring transit jobs.
We can’t wait until next year to host more eager students looking to get behind-the-scenes job experience in the world of public transit!
Author: Adrienne Coling
I must say, of all the things I have learned thus far at Transit Police Academy, this week was my favourite.
As I said in the previous post, the two topics were recruiting and IRAYL.
If you’re interested in becoming a Transit Police officer, be prepared!
There are 14 different stages to a successful application and intake that leads to hiring and the police academy training.
This process is exactly like the other police departments in the region.
Transit Police is looking to hire from the same crop of applicants so having a similar application process across the board just makes sense.
But it’s important to note that while the majority of other police services address calls by car, Transit Police are beat-police.
They proactively patrol transit on foot which enables them to build relationships with customers, businesses and other stakeholders.
These relationships coupled with a highly visible presence on the transit system daily, enables Transit Police to address root causes of crime in and around transit in a proactive manner.
Transit Police gets about 70% of their applicants as new recruits meaning 30% are from other police departments.
Here are just some of the steps you need to complete in order to be considered:
- Participate in a ride-along
- Take, and pass, a written exam
- Provide 30 (yes, 30!) personal references on top of your work references
- Pass physical testing called the Police Officer Physical Ability Test
- In-person interviews
- Psychological evaluation
- Take a polygraph
What I thought was particularly interesting is how they really look at the whole package.
Why YOU want to get into policing, what makes up who you are and how you would fit within the police service.
So, if you end up passing all the tests with flying colours, you are hired and then sent to Police Academy.
Here, there are three blocks of training:
- Academic (13-14 weeks)
- Field Training (8-12 weeks)
- Academic (8-10 weeks)
Upon completion, you will then graduate and become a full-fledged Transit Police member. And if you make it, believe me, you deserve it!
Next up is something I could go on and on about so, please excuse me if I do.
It’s a wonderful program, the only of its kind, called IRAYL.
IRAYL is run out of Pacific Community Resources and funded by the BC Ministry of Children and Family Development.
Their goal is to connect at-risk youth with resources to help them be safe, healthy and assist the region’s most vulnerable groups and their families.
The four members of this outreach team are on and around the SkyTrain system, Monday to Friday for eleven hours each day.
They help bridge the gap between social workers and the youth by directing people to shelters, doctors, detox and rehabilitation centres, food banks, social programs and so much more!
On site, each IRAYL member will be highly visible and carry back packs that have snacks, juice, fresh socks and/or underwear and other necessity items that kids on the street often aren’t able to provide for themselves.
They work closely with Transit Police to not only make sure these youth are safe, but also ensure the safety of the rest of the public on the system.
For them, it’s all about building trusting relationships and helping people get out of unhealthy and oftentimes dangerous situations.
Personally, I wish there was funding for a team of 10, 20, 50, even 100 of these fantastic individuals who are able to reach out and provide hope and help for so many people.
They do incredible work and I was proud to meet them and hear the stories of their work.
The next session of Transit Police Academy is about the Professional Standards Unit who investigate complaints about police members and doing some tactical simulations in the combat room! Stay tuned!
Author: Adrienne Coling
Complex investigations are the real critical part of police work.
Transit Police has a special investigation team called the Crime Reduction Unit (CRU). Members of Transit Police who want to be a part of this team apply separately.
The Crime Reduction Unit works closely with front line Transit Police and collaborates with other police departments within the region.
CRU officers are trained in tactical surveillance, intelligence gathering, offender management and forensic interviewing. This unit utilizes various investigative techniques conducted in both uniform and plain clothes.
The main tasks for this team are:
- identifying suspects
- arrests which are often the result of weeks or months of investigation
- search warrants
- seizing property
- offender management
CRU is doing a great job helping keep the transit system as safe as possible for all riders!
In fact, they are responsible for numerous apprehensions of criminals on and off the system in and around Metro Vancouver.
Did you know that in 2014, alone Transit Police removed 967 wanted criminals and criminals breaching court imposed conditions from the system?
Now, if you’re like me and you like to walk/cycle around your neighbourhood, I think you’d be hard pressed to find an area that has absolutely NO graffiti.
It really is a major problem for cities all over the world! Houses, garages, businesses, cars and yes, even our transit system is constantly being defaced by graffiti.
Transit Police Sgt. Wendy Hawthorne is internationally known for her expertise around the culture of graffiti and leading anti-graffiti strategies.
She, along with a joint task force with police departments throughout the Lower Mainland and across BC, handle everything from major gang-related graffiti and hate crimes to prevention work within high schools.
The strategy includes eradication, education, prevention and enforcement.
Wendy also supports the use of restorative justice. I didn’t know what that meant at first either–here’s the official definition from Correctional Service Canada:
“Restorative Justice (RJ) helps meet the needs of people faced with crime and conflict in an inclusive and meaningful way. RJ practices provide voluntary opportunities for those who have been harmed and those who have caused harm to be active participants in their journey for justice, accountability, and reparation.”
Basically, it is about moving forward from the crime and in the instances of graffiti, having the perpetrators be accountable for their actions beyond the courts.
One way to do this is with art programs that allow people to get out of the graffiti lifestyle and create art that doesn’t hurt or harm anyone or their property.
Which personally I think it fantastic! With mentors, some of these people will truly benefit from it and be able to express themselves in a more positive and meaningful way.
Next up in Transit Police Academy is recruiting (any takers?!) and IRAYL — the Inter-Regional At-Risk Youth Link.
I’ll write all about it in my next installment in a week’s time.
Author: Adrienne Coling
Week two of Transit Police Academy was very technical. Literally!
It was all about the technology they use to communicate with each other, other police in the region, emergency services as well as you (and me!), the riders on the system.
Something I thought was particularly interesting is the way that Transit Police uses historical data and specialized crime predictive analysis to identify and track hotspots and areas of concern along the system.
Specialized software automatically generates a predictive algorithm which enables Transit Police to forecast where and when criminal activity is most likely to occur.
This information determines where police focus their patrols, greatly reduces response times and helps to proactively reduce and address root causes of crime. Read more »
After my first evening in Transit Police Academy, I have to admit that I didn’t know what I didn’t know until I knew it!
Transit Police was created in 2004 to be the thread that ties all the different jurisdictions in the region together.
They are trained exactly as any other police department and have the power of arrest, have access and ability to share information with other police departments and RCMP and are accountable to many authorities both provincial and federal.
We got a really great example of how Transit Police works in the Lower Mainland.
An incident occurred in a Surrey SkyTrain station with the perpetrator then hopping on the train heading to New Westminster committing another crime on the system THEN getting on again and getting into some more trouble in Vancouver.
Before Transit Police, these incidents caused by a single perpetrator included not one, not two but THREE police departments all with varying degrees of information based on the individual situations in their jurisdiction.
Transit Police streamlines the process and they work closely with municipal police departments as their jurisdiction expands across the entire province!
One of the major concerns I hear from riders, (and hey, I’ve thought it too!) is: “Where ARE the Transit Police? I don’t see them except checking fares!”
The short answer is that they can’t be everywhere at once. Here’s the long answer:
Teams of two try to stay near the system to jump on and off the train if needed to be at emergencies quickly and spend lots of time on and near major bus loops. But they are constantly moving.
The breakdown of time is about 1/3 each for dealing with calls, administrative paperwork and patrolling the system.
A full Transit Police department is 110 officers. Right now, they are at about 103. And yes, they’re hiring if you’re interested!
There are the day and evening shifts with staffing 24/7. Officers are four days on and four days off. The split is about 10 units during the day and 12 (or more) in the peak afternoon and evening times.
However, I think it’s their service delivery model that is particularly interesting.
The new model in place now comes out of an independent report from Simon Fraser University that included surveys, workload analysis, time and motion and predictive analysis.
Transit Police implemented their suggestions to create a hub system.
There are 6 major hubs along the SkyTrain system where Transit Police officers report to and from. These are: Bridgeport, Waterfront, Broadway/Commercial, Metrotown, Lougheed and Surrey Central. There are smaller hubs at many other stations as well.
The hub stations were chosen based on the following criteria:
- Call density
- Volume of rail passengers
- Volume of bus traffic in loops
- Volume of bus passengers
- Customer perception of safety
This creates a type of geographical “beat” for officers on the system with zones they patrol allowing them to get to know the neighbourhoods and people.
This week we will be exploring intelligence led policing, communications with their Operations Communications Centre and the On Duty app.
Also, we’ll be looking at the 87-77-77 text line.
FYI! In one year, Transit Police received 31,000 texts with tips and concerns about situations on the system.
I’m genuinely learning a lot and I’m happy to pass that on to you, Buzzer readers. Look out for my new post next week!
Author: Adrienne Coling
“All right, you scrawny beanpoles, becoming a cop is NOT something that happens overnight. It takes one solid weekend of training to get that badge” – Chief Wiggum
All kidding and Simpsons quotes aside, I am always impressed by the level of dedication and training police officers have and Transit Police is no exception!
They provide a vital service for our system and our region.
Believe me, they do far more than just write fare infraction tickets. This is a full-fledged police service!
Have you ever wanted to know more about the ins and outs of Transit Police? Me too!
So, every Wednesday evening (starting tonight) until the end of June, I’ll be attending a TransLink initiative for employees called Transit Police Academy.
I will be learning about how they police the system, tactical responses, investigation procedures and lots more.
My goal in participating is to better understand what they do, why, how and pass that knowledge onto you, the rider (and reader).
The agenda for the first week:
- Service Delivery Model
- Community Policing
- Transit Watch Program (Surrey)
- Chief’s Community Counsel
- Police Board
I will be posting about my experiences at Transit Police Academy each week so stay tuned for all my updates!
Author: Adrienne Coling