Saskatoon City Councilor David Kirton presented a motion on Monday to see if a transit security The program will be effective. The original proposal was withdrawn, but not without extensive reports on transit security being greenlighted.
Kirton went on to say with his original proposal that he wanted to deploy officers at buses and transit stops.
“I have had the opportunity to speak to several drivers who are close to and witnessing acts of violence and harassment on buses,” Kirton said.
“According to one operator, many cases increase much faster than before. It’s like people don’t care what they do when an operator mentions a fair, or tries to enforce a rule. They swear, scream, and yell, sometimes spitting, or physically attacking an operator.”
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Kirton said some sort of transit support program would create a safe, clean and reliable bus service.
He gave other examples that he said came from bus operators: windows have been shot with guns; The activists have been held at gunpoint; Drunk people tried to forcibly board the bus; And people started beating on the bus.
Kirton said he was not looking for full police officers for this transit enforcement system, but added that community support officers (CSOs) would fit well in the position.
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The administration said that if the resolution is passed, an interim report will be returned to ensure that the city is collecting the correct data.
The council was told in a previous report how much it would cost to post the security of the commissionerates at transit stops, but Kirton said he wants to go beyond that, and there are people who are trained in de-escalation.
“On 20th Street, the CSOs know the names of the people on the street. They know them well, and the people on the street know the names of the CSOs.”
“I’d love to see a program where we have people, whatever we want to call them, TSOs, be on the bus, and know the names of the people they’re communicating with or facing,” says Kirton. he said.
Other councilors took issue with the original proposal, saying that more data was needed to come forward.
Count Hilary Gough said she agreed with the intent of Kirton’s proposal, but said the issue needed to be better understood before investing in the solution.
“Right now we have a transit service that is facing huge technical challenges that are fundamentally compromising the reliability of our basic services, and we need to address those first,” Gough said.
She said the barriers to transit buses are not yet fully implemented, and she hasn’t had a chance to evaluate them.
Count Bev Dubois said there wasn’t enough data to say this was the best way to approach this transit issue.
Count Zack Jeffries also stated that he cannot support the original proposal, adding that there is an issue that needs to be addressed but that he still has many questions, and would like more information to come back.
Kirtan, after reading the room, said that he wanted to withdraw his proposal, instead revising it so that the administration came back with a safety report and summary on incidents on transit buses and transit facilities. The amended resolution was passed unanimously.
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