Sunday, July 6, 2008

TransLink Police – Where Are You?

I can vaguely recall the 1960’s television cop comedy show, “Car 54 Where Are You?” Each week the show started with a very distinctive announcer’s voice loudly asking this burning question. This past week, Langley City Mayor Peter Fassbender was asking roughly the same question, after yet another vicious assault on a man using a pay phone in the Logan Avenue Bus Loop.

It took the Langley RCMP 10 minutes to arrive on the scene, once the call came in. They found a 36 year old man that had been kicked, punched, and had a whiskey bottle smashed over his head. It was yet another unprovoked attach in the city. Three boys age 16-18 and three girls age 15 – 18 where apprehended by Langley RCMP. The accused were actually still on site when police arrived.

Apart from me seeing two South Coast British Columbia Transportation Authority Police Service (SCBCTAPS), formerly known as the Greater Vancouver Transportation Authority Police Service (GVTAPS)….OK, let’s just call them TransLink Police Officers… at a skytrain station in Vancouver once, the only other times I have seen them, there were four officers in a car that pulled up and came in to eat at Knight and Day Restaurant in Vancouver. On another occasion, I saw four officers in a car at a Langley gas station.

Why are these transit police always in cars? Shouldn’t they be riding the buses and skytrains like the commuters? Must they always travel in packs of 4? I notice that there are buses that run in the area of Knight and Day at Boundary and Lougheed. Maybe the bus schedule is inconvenient for them?

When TransLink started to propose an armed, uniformed transit police force with full police powers I was 100% in favour of it. However, it now appears to me that this force operates under no intelligence-driven plan. Without an operational plan and system-wide coverage, I think it is useless as a police agency.

In the UK and elsewhere around our world, police agencies utilize a computer-based system where reports and intelligence data are entered. At Gatwick Airport in the UK, police use their computer system to provide “Proactive Policing”. The system scans the database and also adds in daily events to produce lists of checks and patrols that the Gatwick Airport police utilize to deliver services. New York City Transit Police have been operating for years and this is very much an intelligence-driven force.

Let’s get rid of the SCBCTAPS patrol cars and get these 121+ transit police taking transit across the system. If not, then place one transit police officer at each Skytrain station and use the balance of the budget to help pay for local police to patrol the bus loops and bus stations.

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