Metro Vancouver Transit Police has announced its new Community Safety Officer Program, which involves unarmed officers and is set to launch in 2023.
Instead of guns, officers will carry batons, pepper spray and handcuffs.
Duties assigned to officers include community engagement, transit safety education, evidence collection, perimeter security at police incidents, crowd control, fare enforcement, and support at large events.
TransLink is funding the program.
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In a statement, Dave Jones, the Chief Officer of the Metro Vancouver Transit Police, said the program is all about safety.
“The Community Safety Officer program adds another layer of safety, reassurance and support to passengers, alongside Transit Police officers and frontline transit staff,” he said.
Officers in the program will have to endure a “rigorous 10-week training program” followed by another seven weeks of field training.
Courses involved in the program include mental health awareness, crisis intervention and de-escalation, legal studies, use-of-force tactics, traffic safety, and principles of community policing.
#MediaRelease: Starting next year, commuters can expect to see a new uniform on the transit system as @TransitPolice introduce a Community Safety Officer program.https://t.co/4bAHbFYQAp pic.twitter.com/cRkrxwV2SZ
— Media Relations for Metro Vancouver Transit Police (@MVTP_Media) December 8, 2022
Mike Farnworth, BC’s public safety minister, said the program was cost-effective.
“This cost-effective program will allow the Transit Police to focus their resources on serious crime and is consistent with the Special Committee on Reforming the Police Act’s recommendation for a more flexible and efficient policing approach that includes tiered public safety officers.”
In 2021, the Transit Police had a budget of $44.3 million. In 2022 that budget increased by roughly $1.7 million.
According to LinkedIn, the current Transit Police force comprises around 183 sworn officers with the same policing powers as municipal police forces.
Metro Vancouver Transit Police is accepting applicants for the new program, and pay starts at $31.99 per hour.