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Corporate security added to the Calgary Transit safety mix

They expect to have 31 guards at select Calgary Transit stations by the end of Q1, according to a city briefing note.

Calgary plans to double the number of corporate security to boost transit station safety across the city.

Last month, 14 City of Calgary corporate security guards joined Transit Safety, after an October pilot project. These officers provide support to transit peace officers already patrolling the line.

It’s part of a continuing strategy that Calgary Transit laid out first back in May 2022 to address safety on transit. Many Calgarians have been reluctant to return to transit for their commute because of safety and social disorder issues. The Calgary Transit Recovery Strategy was a four-pronged approach to helping boost ridership. It focused on service recovery, service investments, safety investments and customer experience investments.

One of the elements of that program was to create a new Transit Security Guard role. These officers have a higher level of training than contracted security guards, but not the same as peace officers.

“We have started to see success. Our security guards report issues before they become more serious incidents. This means our peace officers can be dispatched to service calls more quickly,” said Will Fossen, Deputy Chief of Transit Public Safety, in a release.

According to the City, all corporate security guards receive 120 hours of training. This includes legal studies, conflict resolution, physical control tactics, overdose response and support of vulnerable populations.

“City guards deployed on Transit additionally receive 24 hours of transit-specific training the city said in an email response.

The guards, along with the increase in the number of peace officers, is part of an additional $5.9 million in operating funds annually for safety.  (25 peace officers have been added in the past four months.) The programs also incurred $370,000 in capital costs.

Calgary Transit is also cooperating with the Calgary Police Service to increase the safety profile.

Not all stations will have security guards

Transit peace officers will respond to more serious offences, the city said. They’ll handle active incidents and assaults. The security guards can conduct walkthroughs and conduct checks on welfare.

The city said not all stations will have — or require — security guards. They said corporate security guards will be assigned to stations attached to infrastructure such as malls or other buildings. They said this is where there are more calls for service.

The city hopes it will provide a visible deterrent for criminals, drug use and social disorder.

“Bringing together sworn peace officers and security guards in a hybrid approach allows The City to better adapt and deploy the right resources to the right incident,” said Rob Morris, Corporate Security’s Manager of Risk Monitoring & Response.

“We’re hearing this approach results in better visibility, deterrence and prevention of incidents – including greater ability for guards and peace officers to address issues on Transit, even before they are reported by members of the public.”

The full deployment of 31 corporate security guards was expected by the end of Q1 2023.