Top 5 safety tips for students

As the school year begins next week, many students will be taking transit to school. If you’re heading off to school on transit by yourself for the first time– or you have a child who is – it can be a bit overwhelming. We hope these safety tips help you feel more confident in your journey.

  1. Know how to call for help – save our contact numbers in your mobile phone: 604.515.8300 for calls, and 87.77.77 for texts. Learn about security features on the transit system. Look for transit staff during your journey. Transit Police, SkyTrain Attendants and Canada Line Attendants are often found near ticket machines or on platforms.
  2. Be confident about where you’re going – plan your route. Leave early so you’re not rushed. Have another route ready as a backup in case there’s a delay on your primary route. Sign up for Transit Alerts.
  3. Keep your personal belongings safe – take your backpack off and put it at your feet. Keep any valuables securely hidden in your bag. Be careful with your phone and other devices, especially when standing near transit vehicle doors.
  4. Be aware of your surroundings – stay in well-lit areas. Keep one earbud out of your ear so you can hear what’s going on. If you see someone acting in a way that makes you uncomfortable, quietly move away – go to another part of the platform, sit closer to the bus driver, switch SkyTrain cars at the next station, etc. Share your concern with transit staff.
  5. Report problems – whether someone has touched you inappropriately, you see another person being harassed, you’re worried about the well-being of someone slumped over in a seat, or there’s something else causing you concern, please let us know. Text 87.77.77 and someone will respond right away.

Transit is a great way to get to school and back. We hope you enjoy your trip.

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Why aren’t Transit Police officers located at every transit hub?

At Transit Police, we often get asked why we can’t have officers posted at every SkyTrain station, or why Transit Police officers don’t regularly ride all major bus routes. The answer is that this is not realistic as our officers respond to calls for service across all modes of transit spread across over 1800 km2, from Bowen Island to White Rock to the West Coast Express station in Mission. This includes SkyTrain (55 Stations), West Coast Express (8 Stations), SeaBus (2 Terminals) and buses (200+ bus routes plus bus stops/exchanges). Some simple arithmetic can help provide context.

We have an authorized/budgeted strength of 183 sworn police officers.

From those 183, some placements are taken up by:

  1. Vacancies – not all of our positions are filled and we are currently hiring. If you’d like to join us, you can learn more here
  2. Leadership team – a number of officers are on our senior leadership team. This includes the Transit Police Chief Officer, two Deputy Chiefs and several Inspectors.
  3. Specialty units – these are officers who are assigned to areas such as recruitment, professional standards or investigations.

Of the officers that remain:

  1. Divide them into four patrol squads.
  2. Subtract officers who are sick, in training or on leave.

Of the officers on patrol duty:

  1. Following their response to a police incident, officers will be busy completing the necessary paperwork or conducting investigative follow-up.
  2. If a mental health apprehension has taken place, officers will need to remain at the hospital until people in their custody are assessed by doctors.
  3. Other officers will be working on special projects based on reports we receive from the public and identified trends in crime and disorder.

So, how do we ensure such a large transit network stays safe?

Transit Police officers are deployed strategically, based on where crime statistics and intelligence reports tell us they are most needed. We work closely with our municipal policing partners to provide seamless policing across the region, with a focus on our four operational priorities:

Recently, we have also been giving attention to the ongoing opioid crisis and Lower Mainland gang conflict.

If you need Transit Police during your transit journey, please let us know. We can be reached 24/7 by phone at 604.515.8300 or by text at 87.77.77 (always call 911 in an emergency).

Transit Police invites you to take part in the 7th Annual Charity Golf Tournament

Join us for the 7th annual Metro Vancouver Transit Police Charity Golf Tournament in support of Special Olympics BC athletes. On Monday, May 30, enjoy a day of golf, while helping to create a world of inclusion where every person is accepted regardless of ability.

Your $125 registration fee includes a sponsored Southern-style bbq lunch from Porkmafia.ca, green fee, shared power cart, and live scoring. The event will feature a silent auction, 50-50 raffle, and prizes.

To find out more about Special Olympics visit  www.specialolympics.bc.ca

To register, please send your completed REGISTRATION FORM to Jaemie.Valenzuela@transitpolice.bc.ca

Blue Eagle Community Cadets program expands to Surrey

Metro Vancouver Transit Police is pleased to announce that the successful Blue Eagle Community Cadets program, launched in 2021 in partnership with Vancouver Police Department’s Diversity, Inclusion, and Indigenous Relations Section and the Aboriginal Policing Centre, will expand to Surrey.

The program, free for youth ages 12-15, focuses on Indigenous culture while building leadership skills in a safe and supportive environment. Currently operating out of Britannia Community Centre in Vancouver, the program has offered unique experiences to the young participants with the help of community partners, including a tour of Vancouver by airplane, camping and survival skills, attending local sporting events and participation in many activities that celebrate Indigenous culture.

In partnership with the Surrey RCMP, Surrey Schools, Options Community Services, and Surrey Crime Prevention, we are now proud to announce that the program will launch in Surrey at A. H. P. Matthew Elementary School on Thursday nights, starting with an Open House on January 27, 2022, 5:00-7:00pm. Everyone is welcome, and we hope to see you there!

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE BLUE EAGLE COMMUNITY CADETS

The holiday season at Transit Police

Many of you are spending the holiday season connecting with friends and family, taking advantage of holiday events throughout Metro Vancouver, enjoying the snow, or giving back to your community. And so are we. Here are some highlights of what Metro Vancouver Transit Police has been up to this holiday season.

Patrol officers got into the Christmas spirit during their shift on Christmas Eve. Constable Emily Stasiuk brought in “stuffies” to hand out to children who were riding the transit system that day. The plush toys were a big hit and one pink unicorn stuff in particular made a big impression.

Constable Shiraaz Hanif partnered with Fratelli Bakery and local superhero Tammy Joyal who donated treats and warm winter clothing respectively. On Christmas Eve, he set out to spend the night visiting with people who were spending the night alone on the streets.

Constable Bruce Shipley meanwhile has also been busy doing outreach with vulnerable people who spend time on and around the transit system. He provides them with food, warm clothing and access to resources to ensure that they stay safe in the freezing weather.

It’s not just human Transit Police officers and dispatchers who have been working this holiday season, the Explosive Detection Dog Team dogs have been busy as well. Working in the snow has been a new experience for some of them, but Police Dog Harnett had a blast while working on Christmas Day.

In partnership with all of our TransLink partners, we helped support Coast Mountain Bus Company’s annual Toys for Tots campaign that saw 2,678 toys and $2,500 in donations delivered to the Lower Mainland Christmas Bureau. We are proud to have played a role in bringing Christmas to local kids who might have otherwise gone without.

But what really fills us with holiday cheer is the well-wishes we’ve gotten from all of you. Every holiday greeting and act of kindness is very much appreciated. Notably, we especially appreciated the serenade from a former music teacher and talented singer.

https://twitter.com/MVTP_Media/status/1473732105289056264

From all of us at Metro Vancouver Transit Police, we hope that your holiday season has been as rewarding as ours and we wish you all the best in 2022.

RCMP Supt. Anita Furlan hired as Transit Police Deputy Chief Officer

Deputy Anita Furlan

Metro Vancouver Transit Police is excited to announce that RCMP Superintendent Anita Furlan has accepted the position of Deputy Chief Officer with our department, beginning on January 4, 2022. She will be the first female officer appointed into the Deputy Chief position since Transit Police was created in 2005.

Over the past 12 months, Superintendent Furlan has served as a senior leader within Transit Police during a one-year secondment. She has overseen a number of teams such as the Operations Communications Centre, Community Engagement Team, Crime Suppression Team, Police Dog Service and Criminal Intelligence Unit.

“A lot of change has occurred over the past year, while Anita was working with Transit Police and it’s exciting to have her become a permanent part of our team as we continue to grow and meet policing needs throughout the Lower Mainland region.” – Chief Officer, Dave Jones

Superintendent Furlan has been a regular member of the RCMP since 1998.  She has held a variety of posts, including being part of the Border Integrity Team (two years), being one of the first members of the Integrated Gang Task Force at its inception in 2004, spending six years with the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit (CFSEU) – Organized Crime section, where she was engaged in a number of international drug investigations, and four years with the provincial Major Crime Section in an administrative capacity. 

In 2016, Superintendent Furlan was commissioned to the Inspector rank. Her first post was as the Officer in Charge of the Real Time Intelligence Centre-BC (“RTIC-BC”) where she implemented a number of changes, with a focus on real time service delivery to frontline policing and increasing the profile and awareness of this unique unit.  In 2018, she was promoted to the rank of Superintendent as the RCMP “E” Division Intelligence Officer, where she oversaw the RTIC-BC, Criminal Intelligence Section (CIS), Division Analyst Intelligence Team (DIAT), and the Analytical Support Unit.

Movember at Metro Vancouver Transit Police

Things at Transit Police are going to get a little “hairy” this month as, once again, members of our organization grow facial hair to raise money for Movember, a charity that supports men’s health.

Setting the bar for all of our participants is Transit Police dog Strider who, as a As a Deutsch Drahthaar sports an enviable red mustache year-round.

Movember funds projects that aim to prevent premature death among men due to reasons related to suicide, prostate cancer and testicular cancer. Since Transit Police has an operational priority of helping vulnerable people in crisis, Movember Foundation’s focus on tackling mental health challenges is something our department is proud to support.  

Support the human and canine members of the MVTP K9 Team

Support the Waterfront Community Policing Centre Team – if they reach their goal of $2,000, Sergeant Julien Ponsioen will shave off his trademark beard!

Support the members of A Squad

Transit safety tips for a spooky and safe Halloween

Halloween weekend is almost here and, for many of us, that means dressing up in costume, gathering with friends or trick-or-treating. If you’ll be using transit to get to any of your Halloween events, Transit Police has tips to keep you safe.

Take extra care when choosing Halloween costumes. Face masks are mandatory on transit, so consider incorporating one into your costume. Put some thought into your props before stepping on transit. Costume weapon props, such as replica handguns, hatchets, knives, swords, etc., can be a problem. Ask yourself, “is there any chance that this item could be mistaken for the real thing?” If the answer is “yes” and someone calls the police, it might put your safety at risk. If in doubt, leave the prop at home or pack it away out of sight securely for the entire duration of your transit journey.

Consumption of liquor in public is illegal. This includes on board all buses, trains, and the SeaBus. If you are carrying liquor on transit, ensure it remains closed until you arrive at your destination. The fine for consuming liquor in public is $230. Vaping or smoking Cannabis anywhere on the Transit system is prohibited and can result in a $230 fine.

Tips for staying safe on transit:

  • Familiarize yourself with TransLink safety features.
  • Stay alert to your surroundings. Avoid being engrossed in your electronic device. Consider removing one earbud to stay in tune with what’s going on around you.
  • Plan your journey ahead of time and make sure you appear confident and know where you’re going. Check the time that service on your route stops for the night, to avoid being stranded; know which NightBus will get you home, if needed.
  • If travelling in a group, establish a meeting place in the event you are separated. (Mobile phones can get lost and batteries can die)
  • Be visible as you make your way to and from transit. Wear bright costumes or include reflective tape, glow sticks, or other articles that improve visibility. Get more pedestrian safety tips from ICBC.

Use Text Code 87.77.77 to discreetly send us information regarding non-emergency situations on the bus, train or SeaBus. Save the text code in your phone contacts in advance, so it is ready to use if you need it.

By working together, we can ensure that your experience on our transit system will be a safe one. Have a safe and Happy Halloween on our system! Text us directly and discreetly at 87.77.77 or call us at 604.515.8300. Always call 911 in an emergency.

See Something, Say Something!

Chair Levine’s Opening Remarks – June 18, 2021 Police Board Meeting

We would like to acknowledge Metro Vancouver Transit Police operate throughout the traditional territories of the Lower Mainland Coast Salish peoples. We acknowledge our hosts and thank them for their hospitality on these lands.”

Now,  I wish to take a moment to talk about the heart-breaking news that the bodies of 215 children were found buried at the former Kamloops Residential School. I speak for the whole Board and the Chief Officer when I say that words cannot express the sorrow and anger and grief felt by all Canadians,  and especially by Indigenous communities across our country. We know that this was not an isolated incident.   

The deaths of these children – and the cultural genocide perpetrated by the Residential School System – are our enduring Canadian shame. We acknowledge these wrongs and recognize that the harm, pain and trauma continues today.   

All Police Boards – including our Metro Vancouver Transit Police Board – have a duty to act, to advance Truth and Reconciliation.  

Following from our work over the last several years including our report Strengthening Transit Police Support to Indigenous People, we have implemented several new initiatives, from increasing our training on the impact of colonization on Indigenous Peoples and on cultural humility and awareness, to establishing new outreach programs like the Blue Eagle Community Cadet Program

I particularly want to acknowledge the dedication of our Community Engagement Team and our Indigenous Liaison Officer, who lead and guide us in this work. But we have much more to do.   

We recognize that long-term, respectful work is required  – by us – the Board and the MVTP – to build good relations with Indigenous peoples. The Transit Police is absolutely committed to the work of Reconciliation. And we will continue to prioritize this work, including through ongoing respectful consultation and engagement with Indigenous communities we serve.   

I also want to take a minute to talk about the terrible attack on a Muslim family out for an evening walk in London Ontario last week. Three generations murdered, a child orphaned. All because of their faith. Sickening, horrifying and completely unacceptable.  We grieve with the Muslim community in Canada and condemn the scourge of Islamophobia.  

Hate crimes and attacks are on the rise in Canada.  Our own region has recently gained worldwide notoriety as the epicenter of anti-Asian hate crime in North America. This is terrible. Intolerable. No one in our community should be targeted for who they are. We can’t look away. We must push back, and stand up against racism in all its forms. 

 We are all connected and affected by injustice. And so, we all must do what we can to work together to make change, to make our community a place of safety and belonging for everyone.    

On behalf of the MVTP board and members, I recommit to the public that we will work to ensure that the Transit Police works, every day, to ensure that everyone feels safe and secure on the system, And that all staff feel proud to work at Transit Police.   

Among other initiatives, the Transit Police will be implementing more anti-racism, implicit bias and diversity training for all Members – sworn and civilian – to ensure we can advance inclusion, respect and dignity for all the communities we serve across the region. Our people do a tough job in an often challenging environment and are outstanding professionals committed to doing their best.  We will continue to give them the tools they need to do their jobs and ensure the public that our members walk the talk. Our Board will continue our own training to ensure that we keep a sharp focus on equity, inclusion and diversity as we get into the post-Covid period, ridership returns and the system continues to grow. 

We commit: 

The Transit Police will promote and support diversity across our organization, build understanding and skill throughout our workforce, reach out respectfully to the communities we serve, and embed these objectives and the actions to support them, into our strategic plan.

And we will report to the public on our results.  

The Transit Police role is to maintain safety and security on the system. For everyone. Everyone. Nothing less will do. That is our commitment.

National Indigenous Peoples Day at Transit Police

by Sergeant Cheryl Simpkin, Community Engagement Team

June 21, 2021 is National Indigenous Peoples Day in Canada. Metro Vancouver Transit Police celebrate the four Transit Police officers who have Indigenous heritage and the Indigenous people in the communities we serve.

We recognize Canada’s movement toward truth and reconciliation and embrace the cultures of urban and traditional peoples in the communities throughout Metro Vancouver, the province of BC and Canada, we celebrate the beautiful cultures, traditions and protocols that strengthen and support Indigenous Peoples.

Metro Vancouver Transit Police is committed to developing and strengthening our relationship with the community we serve. The 2020 Strengthening Transit Police Support to Indigenous Peoples report has been a guiding report to focus our department through some exciting changes that even a global pandemic couldn’t slow down. Several new initiatives were launched in the last year.

Constable Kirk Rattray took on the role of Indigenous Liaison Officer. Drawing on his Tahltan First Nation heritage and his nearly 30 years in policing, Cst. Rattray works to create partnerships between Indigenous communities and police. He ensures our department upholds a high standard of cultural awareness when investigating crimes where a participant is Indigenous, and provides guidance on issues that may affect Indigenous peoples. He also educated police recruits from across the Province on cultural awareness at the Justice Institute of BC.

In the summer, we unveiled our Indigenous Art Piece. Created specifically for Transit Police by First Nations artist Christine Mackenzie, the artwork serves as a visual representation of our commitment to strengthening relationships with Indigenous communities. It tells the story of our department through its elements and will serve as the basis for a logo to be added to our vehicles.

The Blue Eagle Community Cadets program launched earlier this year. Under the leadership of Cst. Rattray, in partnership with Vancouver Police Department’s Diversity, Inclusion, and Indigenous Relations Section and the Aboriginal Policing Centre, the program gives kids between the ages of 12 and 15 the opportunity to build leadership skills while immersed in Indigenous culture and protocols.

On National Indigenous Peoples Day, we celebrate the rich and diverse cultures of Indigenous, Inuit and Métis peoples, while we focus on the work that still to be done on the path to reconciliation.