Major Safety Victory for Transit Union

The Amalgamated Transit Union has long advocated for better protection from violence for bus drivers, who have experienced high rates of victimization for years while working alone on buses. Media reports confirm that the City of Winnipeg will move forward with a plan to have police officers on buses to better protect drivers and passengers.

CBC News Post: Feb 01, 2016 3:02 PM

Police chief plans to put officers, cadets on Winnipeg Transit buses. Devon Clunis details plan in report ahead of Winnipeg Police Board meeting on Friday.

In a report to the Winnipeg Police Board, Chief Devon Clunis said he's going to assign officers and cadets to take Winnipeg Transit buses to improve both safety and the service's image.

Winnipeg Police Chief Devon Clunis says officers and cadets will soon be riding Winnipeg Transit to ensure buses are safe for both passengers and drivers. Clunis outlined the plan in a report to the Winnipeg Police Board for its meeting Friday.

Funding for the safety campaign has already been worked out with Winnipeg Transit, Clunis wrote in his report.

Winnipeg police cadets will ride transit buses and inspect shelters during the course of their regular duties, Clunis said in the report.

Uniformed foot patrol officers will ride buses to their assigned areas of responsibility, he said, and bus routes that are experiencing high crime or disorder complaints could be targeted with different police tactics.

In January, the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 1505, which represents Winnipeg Transit drivers, reported violence against drivers was on the rise.

There were 60 reported assaults on drivers in 2015, said John Callahan, president of ATU Local 1505. That was a 54 per cent increase over 2014.

In an email on Monday, St. Boniface Coun. Matt Allard praised Clunis' strategy for dealing with safety concerns on buses. Allard added one of his staff recently witnessed firsthand the difference police can make on buses.

"Saturday night, while riding the bus, my executive assistant witnessed a uniformed police officer and a transit staff person assisting an intoxicated man," wrote Allard.

"The police presence ensured the situation was handled safely and professionally to the benefit of the public, the driver and the individual himself."

Allard put forward a motion in September calling for more undercover officers to monitor Winnipeg Transit.

Coun. Matt Allard wants undercover cops on Winnipeg Transit buses

Winnipeg police's public information unit has been working with Winnipeg Transit on a code of conduct campaign since Jan. 18, Clunis wrote in his report to the police board.

The objective of the campaign is to both "educate citizens about proper conduct when using transit," he wrote, and "improve public image/perception of Winnipeg Transit and position the service as a safe and secure environment for employees and customers."

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