Transit Police Staff Sergeant Michelle Hansen recognized with BCWLE Award

On April 13, 2023, Metro Vancouver Transit Police Staff Sergeant Michelle Hansen accepted the 2023 British Columbia Women in Law Enforcement (BCWLE) Leadership Award.

In a room filled with women who represented the pinnacle of policing, S/Sgt Hansen was recognized for her unwavering commitment to the community she serves, and the strength of leadership that she provides.

Being able to help people has always been the goal for S/Sgt. Hansen, and the reason she got into policing. In a career spanning 27 years, of which 22 were served with the RCMP before joining Transit Police, S/Sgt Hansen has worked in a number of areas, including Patrol, Olympics Security, high-profile international events, Major Crime, and the Lower Mainland Integrated Tactical Troop. Today, she helps to oversee Operations, working closely with TransLink’s operating companies to address safety on transit.

Since joining Transit Police in 2018, S/Sgt Hansen has stood out for the level of compassion and care that she brings to her work. This is obvious to everyone she interacts with, including the squad that reported to her during her time as Patrol Sergeant.

When a patrol officer lost his 13-year-old son, Justice, to illness, S/Sgt. Hansen was there to help offer support and guidance. She then sought to turn the tragedy into a way to help other children. Working closely with the officer, his family and the department, she created a plush dog named K9 Hero “Justice”, designed to be given by police officers to children who experience a traumatic situation on transit. K9 Hero Justice pays tribute to the bravery, courage, and strength of the child he’s named after, while providing comfort to those in need.

“I’m so humbled and honoured by this nomination and award. I credit the incredible team at MVTP that I am so grateful to work alongside.” – S/Sgt. Michelle Hansen

“I was immensely proud to watch Michelle receive the BCWLE Leadership award. Michelle epitomizes what a true leader is. Her caring and compassionate nature combined with her strength of character naturally draws people toward her. She is both an exceptional officer and mentor and I am so proud to have her as part of the Transit Police family.” – Transit Police Deputy Chief Anita Furlan

Watch the 2020 International Women’s Day video feature below to learn more about S/Sgt. Michelle Hansen

Transit Police dispatcher proud of being the calm voice during chaos

When there is a safety concern or a crime takes place on or around the transit system, the operators in the Transit Police Operations Communications Centre (OCC) receive those reports. Kristin Ory, one of these operators, received one such call regarding a person having a mental health crisis on the system, with the potential of self-harm.

Kristin dispatched a number of Transit Police officers and worked with policing partners who together negotiated with the person in crisis, successfully got them to safety and into the care they needed.

“The call took around six hours… It was an emotionally draining event but an example of how the teamwork of the call takers and police officers came together to ensure a successful outcome,” she said.

“I think one of the most interesting parts of our job in the OCC [often called “dispatch” by the public] is that each of us wears so many different hats while on duty. When you text or call in, depending on the nature of your report, the call taker will be asking you questions that all hold the goal of ensuring safety first.

“That same call taker may be calling for EHS or Fire, may be calling SkyTrain Control to hold trains, answering police officers as they come over the radio needing information on a file they are responding to, and listening to SkyTrain Attendant radios to get updates.

“The dispatcher is listening to all the work their team is doing and to neighbouring police agencies so that the officers responding to a call have the needed information to ensure public safety and the support and resources they need to do their job safely.

“We balance all this work by prioritizing the calls as they come in. It is a busy hub that keeps us on our toes, and I wouldn’t have it any other way,” says Kristin.

With the Transit Police OCC staffed 24/7, operators work ten-and-a-half-hour shifts and rotate from answering phones and texts, to dispatching officers, to calls for service. They also track all of the on-duty police officers’ locations at all times to make sure they are safe and the operators know who’s available to respond when there’s an incident. They also look up information in several different databases to help officers do their jobs. For example, they can let officers know if the person in their custody has any warrants. And they help coordinate responses to incidents with TransLink and external agencies.

“The best part of my role is that I get to talk to people. I love people, and being the voice they hear, who can help ease their worries when they are unsure of a situation involving a crime. I have learned how to be that “voice in the dark” for when others need help, and how to strategize as a dispatcher to ensure the safety of the members on the road and the public,” says Kristin. “It’s a gift to be in the seat we are in, one we earn through our training and hard work.”

It’s Emergency Services Dispatchers and 91-1 Awareness Week from April 9 to 15. If you find yourself contacting Transit Police, be sure to let the dispatcher who answers your call or text know how much you appreciate what they do to keep transit running.

Anyone who feels unsafe on transit, is worried about the safety of someone else, or sees anything suspicious can contact the OCC directly by phone at 604.515.8300 or by texting 87.77.77. Always call 911 in an emergency.

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