Masks required on transit starting August 24

Starting on Monday, August 24, everyone on board a transit vehicle will be required to wear a non-medical mask or face covering.

Metro Vancouver Transit Police supports TransLink’s current approach focused on education and not enforcement. Enforcement action may be considered at a later date once the impact of the new mandatory mask rule is seen.

Details of the new policy can be seen here: https://new.translink.ca/rider-guide/coronavirus-precautions

Questions or comments regarding the policy can be directed here: https://new.translink.ca/feedback

High school students take the lead on new MVTP anti sex assault campaign

A little over a year ago, a group of students at Vancouver’s Sir Winston Churchill Secondary School compared their individual experiences on transit and realized that sexual assault on transit was a very real problem for young people.

“Myself and a few of my peers came to this realization when discussing our own personal experiences with assault on transit, as we noticed that our experiences overlapped with one another,” explains one of the students, Erika Hunter. “Personally, I wasn’t aware of this issue until I experienced it myself, so to hear that many of my peers had been impacted as well hit me hard.”

The students decided to take action. They reached out Metro Vancouver Transit Police in an effort to find ways to educate their peers on what they can do if they experience or witness a sexual offence on transit. Transit Police and TransLink seized on the opportunity to have the students take the lead on developing the fourth phase of Transit Police’s ongoing campaign to combat sexual offences on transit.

On Tuesday, August 4, the results of the collaboration were launched to the media and on social media in the form of a poster and social media campaign. The campaign utilizes graphics created by grade 12 student Maureen Luo. Her artwork will be seen on transit vehicles, in transit stations, and on social media. Her illustrations depict scenes of sexual assault that can sometimes be ignored by those who experience or witness it, such as unwanted touching on the thigh or buttocks. In each of the three scenarios depicted in the campaign ads, it is the witness who notices the behaviour and takes action.

 “Maureen’s designs particularly stood out to us, as she was able to convey the heavy topic without being too vulgar with the graphics, making it appropriate for all audiences,” says fellow student Sakura Rashidi. “Her simplistic art style made it universal, and easy to understand. She was also very considerate about diversity with the posters, and included representation for people of all ages, abilities, and cultural backgrounds.”

Sir Winston Churchill Secondary School students (L-R) Maureen Luo, Sakura Rashidi, Erika Hunter and Rachel Leong

The students also took the opportunity in March 2020 to schedule a school assembly at Sir Winston Churchill Secondary and educate their peers about what sexual offending on transit looked like and what to do in these situations. While there were plans to expand upon this form of direct outreach at additional schools, these plans were cancelled due to the impact of COVID-19.

Reducing sexual offences on transit has been a Transit Police priority since 2012. Anyone who experiences or witnesses a sexual offence is asked to contact Transit Police by phone at 604.515.8300 or by text at 87.77.77 (always call 911 in an emergency). We promise that each report will be taken seriously and investigated thoroughly.

Look for the campaign posters during your next transit journey, or follow us on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

Introducing Cst. Kirk Rattray, MVTP Indigenous Liaison Officer

This month, Metro Vancouver Transit Police was proud to welcome Constable Kirk Rattray into the newly created role of Indigenous Liaison Officer. Cst. Rattray moved into the role after serving four years as the Neighbourhood Police Officer for East Vancouver and the North Shore, and over a year in patrol prior to that.

Creating the position of Indigenous Liaison Officer has been a priority for Metro Vancouver Transit Police for a number of years. We are indebted to the Indigenous groups who offered their wisdom to us, and to reports such as the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Final Report and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report, which have been invaluable sources of guidance for our department. It is our hope that the position will bring collaboration and understanding that will help guide our department toward better serving the Indigenous community.

Cst. Rattray is a natural fit for this pivotal role. He has a long history of drawing on his Tahltan First Nation heritage to build trust and partnerships between Indigenous communities and police. Prior to joining Transit Police in late 2014, Cst. Rattray served with the Stl’atl’imx Tribal Police Service for nearly four years, and the Winnipeg Police Service for 16 years before that.

While serving with Transit Police, Cst. Rattray has worked closely with the Vancouver Aboriginal Community Policing Centre, where he serves as a board director, and the VPD Diversity, Inclusion, and Indigenous Relations Section. He takes part in the annual Pulling Together Canoe Journey, educates police recruits on Indigenous issues at the Justice Institute of BC, and provides cultural awareness training for our department.

Thanks to Cst. Rattray’s tireless work, plans are in the works to launch the Blue Eagle Community Youth Cadet project at Metro Vancouver Transit Police in partnership with the VPD and the Vancouver Aboriginal Community Policing Center. Under his leadership, the program will serve to empower Indigenous youth aged 13-15 by offering mentorship, building leadership skills, and supporting them as they discover their potential. . Cst. Rattray has experience in this area, having created a youth cadet program while working with Stl’atl’imx Tribal Police.

“I am honoured to represent the Metro Vancouver Transit Police as the First Indigenous Liaison Officer. I look forward to, not only improving current relationships that have been built in the Indigenous community in Vancouver, but I also look forward to developing new partnerships in the diverse Indigenous communities of the Metro Vancouver region.” – Cst. Kirk Rattray

“I have known Kirk since he was working with Indigenous peoples during the 2010 Olympics. I can honestly say he is a man of great and gentle character who is humble and honest, and I am proud to call him a dear friend. I am so honored and proud to announce Kirk as the first full time Indigenous Liaison officer for the Metro Vancouver Transit Police.” – Sgt. Cheryl Simpkin, Community Engagement Team

To welcome Constable Rattray into his new role, Transit Police hosted a traditional smudging and cleansing ceremony. Our Senior Management Team was proud to participate with honoured guests that included Chief Rhonda Larrabee of the Qayqayt First Nation who welcomed us to her ancestral land, and Norm Leech of the Stl’al’imc First Nation who performed the ceremony.

Statement regarding the death of George Floyd from Chief Officer Dave Jones and the Metro Vancouver Transit Police Board

Metro Vancouver Transit Police is deeply saddened by the death of George Floyd and have been listening closely to the grief and dialogue prompted by the disturbing circumstances that led to his death. We believe that the officers involved must be held accountable, knowing that no police agency would tolerate such racism in their ranks.

Sadly, Canada is not immune to racism; our history has too many examples of racist policies that have entrenched systemic inequality throughout our society. We know that racism continues to have major and detrimental impacts on the community we serve. As a police agency, we must continue to educate ourselves on issues of systemic racism in order to ensure we meet our duty to protect all the people of our community, and do so with empathy, compassion and a constant willingness to listen to calls for change.

As the police agency for the transit system in Metro Vancouver, we serve a community that includes many members who are vulnerable. We are here to serve everyone to the best of our ability and that is not a responsibility we take lightly. Our officers’ training includes ensuring they understand bias, support diversity and can employ de-escalation techniques where necessary.  We will continue to improve our training, and adjust our policies and practices to ensure we remain responsive to the community we serve. 

We have made many adjustments since our inception in 2005, from moving to a community-based deployment model and creating community engagement teams to launching a texting service that allows passengers to discreetly report if they feel unsafe and increasing our outreach to vulnerable people.  Transit Police also receives regular feedback and insights through our Chief’s Community Council. This group acts in an advisory capacity to Transit Police’s Executive Team in order to promote dialogue and collaboration. It consists of representatives from a broad cross section of the transit community. 

We recognize we need to do more. Beyond being police officers and support staff, our employees are members of our shared community. We are mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers who want the community we live in to be free from racism and hate, and built on equity and fairness. We pledge to continue to work with our community partners, listen closely to the dialogue occurring and educate our own officers and staff on how to better serve you. Your letters, your online messages, your texts and your voices are being heard. If you have feedback, we are listening.

MVTP Community Policing approach temporarily expands to Philippines

Constable Clint Hervias did not expect to be travelling to the Philippines in early 2020. And he certainly didn’t expect to get stranded there with no way to return to Canada.

“I left Canada on February 12 after getting news that my dad was sick and intubated in the ICU, in Manila,” says Cst. Hervias. “After he died, I flew with his body to his hometown of Culasi on Panay Island for the burial. He was laid to rest on March 16 and the following day, the entire province got locked down. All flights were grounded and seaports got shut down, and there was no way for me to get back to Manila for an international flight home.”

Cst. Hervias is just one of many Canadians stranded overseas, and unable to return home. Making the best of the situation, Cst. Hervias is taking the community-focused approach of his work as a Metro Vancouver Transit Police officer and using it to help the vulnerable people in his current community.

“The quarantine here is really hurting the people,” he explains. “People here live day to day on an average salary of about $10 per day. A missed day of work means there’s no food on the table. But there’s a bond of community, and that’s what got the conversation started among those of us who were in a position to help.”

Teaming up with other community members, creating relationships that have inspired food donations and with the assistance of the Philippine National Police, Cst. Hervias is helping to lead outreach efforts to remote communities around Culasi.

“We’ve headed out to the rural, mountainous region of the province to check in with the more neglected barangays [villages],” says Cst. Hervias “We were also able to visit nearby Mararison Island to provide some significant relief and support for the community there, which is very isolated and hard hit.”

Though he is looking forward to the day that he can return home, Cst. Hervias is grateful for his recent experiences. “You know, growing up in Africa and in Canada, I missed being surrounded by my family and my cultural heritage. Being here and getting to know my community inspires me.”

Transit Police Offices are closed to the public until further notice

In an effort to help stop the spread of COVID-19, Metro Vancouver Transit Police headquarters’ lobby and front desk are now closed until further notice. Please contact us from home by phone at 604.515.8300 or text at 87.77.77, or our online contact form. Always call 911 in an emergency.

Transit Police officers and dispatchers continue to work hard to keep transit safe. Text 87.77.77 if you need us!

For updates, follow Transit Police on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

Keep your belongings safe this holiday season

As the holiday season gets underway, many of us will be using transit as we go about purchasing gifts for friends and family. Perhaps some of us might even get that prized item from Santa. Transit Police wants all of your belongings to stay safe while you travel on transit. Here are top ten tips to keep them safe.

  1. Hold on to your personal effects while on transit. Keep track of your belongings. Keep phones and other valuables secured in zippered bags or pockets.
  2. Don’t stand near doorways with your electronic device. Don’t fall victim to the “grab and run”.
  3. Keep your backpack closed and at your feet, and not at your back. Make it harder for someone to take something from your backpack without you being aware.
  4. Keep your purse or backpack in your lap when seated, and not on the seat next to you.
  5. Don’t let anyone borrow your phone or electronic device
  6. Be aware of people around you. Be careful of distraction thefts. Pickpockets work in teams.
  7. Hold on to holiday purchases while on transit. Make sure no shopping bags get left behind.
  8. Consider using unmarked, reusable bags so that it’s not obvious you’ve got a newly-purchased item in them.
  9. When parking at a Park and Ride, take your valuables with you. Place other items into your trunk. Lock your car.
  10. If you feel yourself getting sleepy, secure your valuables and hold on tightly to your belongings.

You can also help us keep your fellow transit users safe as well. Report items they may have left behind to transit staff. If you see a theft take place, call 911. If you have information about a crime on transit, call 604.515.8300 or text 87.77.77 and someone will reply right away. To report crime anonymously, contact Metro Vancouver Crime Stoppers at 1.800.222.8477

You’re invited: Violence Risk Triage Workshop

First responders are invited to join us for a one-day workshop on November 1

In partnership with Protect International, Metro Vancouver Transit Police is hosting a 1-Day Violence Risk Triage Workshop for identifying what warning signs to look for related to violence risk and what immediate actions to take related to follow up and documentation. The workshop is taking place on 1 November 2019 at our Headquarters in New Westminster, British Columbia.

The Violence Risk Triage is based on research, supported by best practice, and acceptable in a court of law. The workshop will focus on:

  • The nature of violence and violence risk
  • Professional responsibilities related to identifying and responding to warning signs
  • Identification of warning signs related to violence risk and implementation of immediate actions 
  • Administration of the Violence Risk Triage
Presenter
Dr. Kelly Watt is an internationally recognized expert, a prolific author, and an engaging presenter. She has been involved in developing, implementing, and evaluating risk assessment procedures around the world. She is passionate about providing evidence-based understanding, knowledge, and skills in assessing and managing risk for violence that professionals can apply in practice.

Who Should Attend?
The workshop is relevant for professionals working for First Responder agencies – Law Enforcement, Health Care, Corrections, Probation, and Border Services – who are interested in identifying and responding to warning signs of violence risk, as well as professionals from other sectors with whom they collaborate.

Course Fee: $305 CDN
(lunch included)
Room 427
400 – 287 Nelson’s Court
New Westminster, BC
Near Sapperton SkyTrain Station
or paid parking on site
Contact
mvtp_training@transitpolice.bc.ca

Top 5 transit safety tips for students

If you’re heading off to school on transit by yourself for the first time next week – 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 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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Important Information for a Safe Ride during Canada Day Celebrations and for the Canada Day Weekend

Metro Vancouver Transit Police are committed to ensuring that everyone has a safe ride on our transit system and reaches their destination safely. With Canada Day festivities scheduled in most municipalities over the long weekend, the trains and buses will be extremely busy and often filled to capacity.

While our officers will be on duty and highly visible throughout the transit system, we are asking the public to assist us in keeping our system safe. We ask that our passengers remain vigilant and report any problems or anything out of the ordinary to us……….See Something, Say Something. Enter our Text Code, 87 77 77 into your mobile devices so that you can report any issues to us, discreetly and in real time. This will give us the opportunity to deploy our officers quickly and efficiently. In an emergency, call 911, whenever possible.

Anyone choosing to take transit should consider the following:

Plan ahead

  • Make a note of the time of your last train, bus or SeaBus and leave enough time to get there to avoid being stranded. Check the Trip Planner on TransLink’s website.
  • When travelling with young children, hold their hand to prevent being separated from them.
  • If travelling in a group, agree on a meeting spot prior to travel in the event you are separated and mobile phones aren’t an option.

Be alert

  • Avoid being engrossed in your personal electronic device – consider removing one ear bud to stay in tune with what’s going on around you.
  • Be aware of your surroundings and present yourself confidently on your journey.

Protect your belongings 

  • Keep purses secure and carry wallets in an inside pocket.
  • Have your Compass Card ready so your wallet is out of sight.
  • Keep all electronic devices close to you and, when not in use, out of sight.
  • Be especially vigilant when sitting or standing near doors.

Be safe

  • Make sure you are familiar with safety features throughout the system such as two-way intercoms and silent alarms (yellow strip) on trains.
  • Do not hesitate to use the red emergency phone located on train platforms to summon help from transit staff in an emergency.
  • Approach uniformed Metro Vancouver Transit Police officers, SkyTrain Attendants, Canada Line Attendants, SeaBus Attendants or Transit Security if you need assistance.
  • Be mindful of fast moving trains approaching stations – stay behind the yellow line.

Drink responsibly

  • Remember that consuming liquor in public, including while on transit or transit property, is against the law and carries with it a possible $230 fine.
  • Being intoxicated in public, including while on transit or transit property, is also against the law. Please enjoy events responsibly, keeping in mind your personal safety and the safety of others.

By working together, we can ensure that your experience on our transit system will be a safe one. Enjoy your weekend and Happy Canada Day!