Starting Feb. 27, there will be 13 more Calgary Transit Peace Officers patrolling the entire transit system.
The graduation, which took place at the Mewata Armoury on Friday, marked the second cohort of officers who graduated as part of an overall commitment by the City of Calgary to increase safety on Calgary Transit C-Trains and busses.
“The need is there and safety is a key component of Calgarians’ concerns,” said Aaron Coon, Chief of Public Vehicle Standards Division for the City of Calgary’s Emergency Management Department.
The additional officers mark an increase in the overall collaborative approach that the City of Calgary and the Province of Alberta are taking towards safety concerns in the Downtown Core and on transit lines.
City of Calgary Corporate Security, Calgary Police, Bylaw, and now the Alberta Sheriffs are collaborating on safety in the core.
Coon said that overall there has been a 34 per cent increase in the number of transit patrols.
“It’s provided us that ability to respond,” he said.
“And as we’ve heard from our partners in the Calgary Police Service, it is a complicated issue that we’re dealing with on our transit systems as it relates to our vulnerable population, mental health, and addictions. Several other initiatives that are currently happening outside of just transit will be helpful to support that.”
The additional officers, said Coon, will also help to relieve some of the pressure on Peace Officers.
“We’ve asked a lot of our transit folks and our partners in the [bylaw] peace officer world to attend to transit. We’ve seen a significant increase in calls of service since our return from Covid as people are accessing transit,” Coon said.
“Officers coming on the street will help support our staff, and provide them the support that they need to provide this service to Calgarians.”
Transit on track for hiring
Calgary Transit Director Sharon Fleming called the graduation ceremony an exciting one for transit.
“It’s been a long journey since we got approval for these recruits in July, and I’m very happy that we’ll be able to provide safety through these recruits.”
She said that overall Calgary Transit was moving steadily towards meeting their recruitment numbers, including those of the 800 announced operator positions for 2023.
“I think we’re well on our way. Are we at 100 per cent? No, but these things take time,” Fleming said.
“We’re processing all those applications as we speak, and I’m really looking forward to meeting all these new employees.”
Fleming said that Calgarians could continue to see improvements in transit safety throughout the year.
“No one wants our transit system to be safer than Calgary Transit. We want safety for our customers. We want safety for our employees. And we want that customer experience to be fantastic,” she said.
“So we are looking forward to all of the new strategies rolling out and being implemented, and are really looking forward to seeing a significant impact out there.”