Do transit systems need their own security personnel? That’s the question facing the Toronto Police Services Board and the Toronto Transit Commission.
After a grant from the federal government, Toronto police chief Bill Blair created a new Transit Patrol Unit earlier this year. Forty-one uniformed officers are already assigned to the transit system.
There are a lot of “logistical” issues to work out, says TTC spokesperson Brad Ross.
There wasn’t a lot of police presence on the system when the TTC created its own security force in the 1990s. Former transit chair Howard Moscoe says, “The reason we initially went with our own special constables is they were 100 per cent dedicated to TTC issues.”
David Gunn, once chief general manager of the TTC, notes police often do not have time to enforce the “little things that drive riders nuts,” like graffiti, smoking on transit property and fare evasion.
Earlier this year the police services board voted to move ahead on a “mutually agreeable transfer of responsibility for public transit safety and security.”
Police spokesperson Meaghan Gray says several teams from the two bodies are addressing the switch, which is scheduled for January 2010. The compensation, benefits and training for current TTC Special Constables who would become police officers is still being worked out, she says.
It’s obvious the transition is tricky. For example, a TTC memorandum states the commission wishes to keep responsibility and staff for “Investigative Services and System Security.”
Whether that includes organized fare fraud as well as other criminal activity remains to be sorted out.
Then there is fare enforcement. Similar to the situation on GO Transit trains or York Region’s Viva buses, it’s the job of transit personnel to enforce “proof of payment.” This system is currently in force on the Queen Streetcar route and is to be widened — but should police officers be expected to check fares?