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Proposal for cops on buses referred to police board

John Callahan, president of Local 1505 of the Amalgamated Transit Union, said the number of assault on transit drivers this year to date exceed all the number of assaults in 2014.

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

John Callahan, president of Local 1505 of the Amalgamated Transit Union, said the number of assault on transit drivers this year to date exceed all the number of assaults in 2014.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 14/9/2015 (1405 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Plainclothes police officers won’t be patrolling Winnipeg’s transit buses anytime soon.

A last-minute proposal this morning to a civic committee for such a plan was referred to the police board’s public consultations on the WPS long-term strategic plan.

Coun. Matt Allard made the proposal at the protection and community services committee, in response to a request from the transit union.

John Callahan, president of Local 1505 of the Amalgamated Transit Union, said the number of assaults on transit drivers this year to date exceed all the number of assaults in 2014.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 14/9/2015 (1405 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Plainclothes police officers won’t be patrolling Winnipeg’s transit buses anytime soon.

A last-minute proposal this morning to a civic committee for such a plan was referred to the police board’s public consultations on the WPS long-term strategic plan.

Coun. Matt Allard made the proposal at the protection and community services committee, in response to a request from the transit union.

John Callahan, president of Local 1505 of the Amalgamated Transit Union, said the number of assaults on transit drivers this year to date exceed all the number of assaults in 2014.

Callahan said a Winnipeg Transit initiative to post inspectors on troublesome routes to deter assaults isn’t working.

"It’s not just about our operators, it’s about public safety as well and (the number of assaults) is escalating," Callahan said.

Callahan said there were 39 reported incidents of assaults on a transit driver in 2014, adding this year the total is at 41.

Callahan had hoped to make a presentation to the protection and community services committee, in support of Allard’s motion – but there was no debate on the motion and, as a result, Callahan could not speak to it.

Callahan said transit inspectors aren’t properly trained on how to intervene in an assault.

"They are unable to arrest and detain these individuals," Callahan said, adding the inspectors lack the training necessary to subdue a violent person.

"Public safety is the Winnipeg Police Service’s work – we’re in the transit business, so we’ll stick to that and let the Winnipeg Police Service do the police work."

Callahan said he is concerned that the incidents of assaults will increase as a result of the city’s admission last week that staff shortages combined with vehicle breakdowns means there won’t be as many buses as needed on many morning and afternoon rush-hour routes.

How quickly the police board will consider the transit union’s request is uncertain.

Police board chairman Coun. Scott Gillingham said the strategic plan is a "big picture" document, adding operational decisions are made by the police.

Gillingham said the board will consider a request for police on transit buses but that will require discussions with the police and a subsequent report detailing costs and personnel involved.

"Our strategic plan (consultations) invites anyone, from the public or council, to submit recommendations or proposal requests, so the board can look at those and assess them," Gillingham (St. James-Brooklands- Weston) said. "We could ask the (police), if we wanted to, to bring us a report, bringing the budgetary implications."

 

aldo.santin@freepress.mb.ca

Aldo Santin

Aldo Santin
Reporter

Aldo Santin is a veteran newspaper reporter who first carried a pen and notepad in 1978 and joined the Winnipeg Free Press in 1986, where he has covered a variety of beats and specialty areas including education, aboriginal issues, urban and downtown development. Santin has been covering city hall since 2013.

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History

Updated on Monday, September 14, 2015 at 4:13 PM CDT: Clarifies Callahan said transit inspectors aren’t properly trained on how to intervene in an assault.

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