MVTP Constable Justin Biggs ‘connects the dots’ to keep transit and neighbourhoods safe

written by Cst. Justin Biggs, NPO for South Burnaby and New Westminster

As a Neighbourhood Police Officer (NPO), I received information from Metrotown Mall security and also another Transit Police Officer that one particular youth who is well known to Transit Police had returned to the Lower Mainland.  This youth was seen with his younger cousin who aspired to be like him according to the younger cousin’s Probation Officer.  These two quickly became involved in crime around SkyTrain Stations with other associates also known to Transit Police.

My concern for public safety and the future of these young men prompted me to host a meeting at Transit Police HQ bringing attention to other police agencies about the youth’s activities.  Representatives from VPD Youth Squad, New Westminster Police, Coquitlam RCMP Robbery Section, Transit Police Crime Reduction Unit (CRU), and Provincial Tactical Enforcement Priority Unit (PTEP) all attended.  The discussion focused on the youths’ background, recent offences, and potential for new offences.  The attendees thought the meeting to be very valuable.

The youth who was the subject of that meeting was arrested shortly after, and his interactions with Transit Police briefly ceased.  However, the story doesn’t end there as a number of his recent associates were suspects in cellphone robberies around Metrotown Mall and Station.  There appeared to be a trend in cellphone robberies around Metrotown with at least 15 personal robberies occurring since January 2017 to the end of March according to Burnaby RCMP.

I worked with another Transit Police officer and we were able to identify nearly all the robbery suspects.  Together we took the lead in identifying suspects for Burnaby RCMP and preparing police statements for their Reports to Crown Counsel.  In cases where a suspect was not known, I used my police, probation and community connections to identify witnesses who could identify them.

In Mid-March I arranged a meeting between Burnaby Strike Force, their crime analyst, myself, and my Transit Police colleague.  At this meeting I recommended a Joint Forces Operation between our organizations.  In just one week a Joint Operations project was approved.  I put the Burnaby Strike Force Corporal in touch with our Crime Reduction Unit sergeant and a Joint Forces Operation was planned.

The two youths I prioritized in my January meeting were arrested.  This arrest subsequently led to evidence of a recent robbery in Richmond and a fraud in Vancouver.  To date there have been no cellphone robberies around Metrotown or near the neighboring Patterson and Royal Oak Stations since their arrest.

New Transit Police display to promote SMS text service

Check out our new display at Commercial-Broadway Station. We are promoting our non-emergency text number 87.77.77.

You can text us discreetly and in real time from anywhere on the transit system including the SkyTrain, bus, SeaBus or West Coast Express, or call us at 604-515-8300 if you have witnessed an incident, observed suspicious behaviour or if someone is making you feel uncomfortable.

Add us into your contacts, so we are always there to help. 

Top 5 safety tips for secondary and post-secondary 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. No need to worry though because we’re here to help. Follow our tips to enjoy a safe and stress-free commute.

  1. Know how to call for help – save our contact numbers in your mobile phone: 604.515.8300 or 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 the 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 designated waiting areas when possible. 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 nervous, 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 want you to enjoy your trip.

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Policing Moving Cities conference Vancouver, May1st/2nd.

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May 1st and 2nd of 2017, Metro Vancouver Transit Police co-hosted, with the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, what has been hailed as a ‘watershed conference’ for transit police and community safety providers. Delegates attended from across Canada, the U.S. and England.

The conference was addressed by internationally recognized leaders in the policing of bus and rail transit systems. These included Chief Constable Paul Crowther (British Transport Police), Chief Joe Fox (New York Police Department – Transit Bureau), Chief James Spiller (Dallas Area Rapid Transit Police Department) and Chief Dave Jutilla (King County Metro Transit Police).

Subjects common to all transit safety and security agencies were discussed. These included sexual offending on transit, terrorism, responses to vulnerable people suffering mental illness and essential industry partnerships.

This conference was extremely important, not only with respect to the sharing of the latest information and best practices by agencies directly involved in the policing of transit systems, but also to the leaders of jurisdictional police departments that have Transit Police/Security working within their borders. A better understanding of the challenges and need for strong partnerships was clearly provided.

The conference also had an opportunity to hear from Deputy Solicitor General (British Columbia) Mark Sieben, CEO of TransLink Kevin Desmond and many others on the value that specialist transit policing brings to the dynamic environment of transit. The Chief Constable of Vancouver Police Department and RCMP Assistant Commissioner Bill Fordy also spoke to the same matter.

The conference has been applauded by many and we have already received congratulations from delegates:

“It was an exceptional conference – one of the best conferences I have ever attended”

“ … I found this to be one of the most relevant and informative conferences I have attended in quite some time.”

The resounding message from delegates was that they look forward to the next one.

Transit Police profiled in Keeping Canada Safe video

Last year, CBC’s Keeping Canada Safe spent some time filming a few members of the Transit Police as they went about their day, ensuring safety for our customers.

In under 4 minutes, the video they produced highlights just a few of the things that Transit Police do on a daily basis, including a glimpse into the role that plain clothes officers play.

To watch the video, click the following link: http://www.cbc.ca/keepingcanadasafe/features/vancouvers-transit-police

Quick Work results in Truck Thief being caught

Maple Ridge, B.C. – Mission and Ridge Meadows RCMP, along with a member of the Metro Vancouver Transit Police (MVTP) have arrested 39 year old Kevin James Vanderwal after he was allegedly seen driving a stolen pickup truck.

Around 8:20 a.m. Monday November 21st Ridge Meadows RCMP received a report of a Ford F350 pickup being stolen from a residence in the 11000 block of 236A Street during the night before.

At approximately 2:40 p.m. Monday members of Mission RCMP observed the truck travelling on Silverdale Avenue in Mission. Police followed the truck at a safe distance, and at no time did a police pursuit take place. Ridge Meadows RCMP officers were alerted that the truck was travelling into Maple Ridge.

The aggressive driving exhibited by the male driver was noticed by an off duty MVTP officer who saw the truck stop and the male driver got out and run. This officer pursued the suspect on foot, apprehending him a short distance away, and he was turned over to Ridge Meadows RCMP.

Corporal Brenda Winpenny said, “What is very note worthy is all officers involved minimized, as best they could, the danger to the public. Mr. Vanderwal is very well known to police in both Mission and Ridge Meadows and he has a long criminal record for similar crimes. Police also want to commend the actions of the citizens who assisted in the arrest, ensuring the off duty officer was safe.”

Transit Police Chief Doug LePard added ,”I am very proud of S/Sergeant Henycez for the actions he took even though off duty. Our successes as police departments often hinge on our partnerships with one another. This is an excellent example of two agencies working together to take someone who is a risk to our communities off the streets. Well done!”

Vanderwal was held in police custody, appearing in court on Tuesday (November 22) where he was remanded in custody. He is now before the courts on charges of vehicle theft, possession of stolen property, obstructing a peace officer, dangerous driving, and failing to stop for police.

British Columbia Electric Railway Special Constable to be honoured

An officer who was part of Transit Police’s origins was killed on duty over 100 years ago, and he will be honoured in September as part of the BC Law Enforcement Memorial.

 

Charles Painter was employed as a night watchman and held the office of Special Constable for the British Columbia Electric Railway Company (BCER). In the early hours of Friday, March 19th 1915 while on duty on Willow Street in Vancouver, he saw a man approaching carrying a bundle of wire. Believing the wire to be stolen, he challenged the man and arrested him. A struggle ensued and Special Constable Painter’s revolver was taken from him and he was shot in the abdomen before the suspect escaped.

 

Charles Painter succumbed to complications resulting from his wound a few days later after providing a statement to police. While contemporaneous media reports connected a man who was later brought to trial in Seattle for the murder of two people in that city, no charges were ever bought in the case of Special Constable Charles Painter. He was laid to rest in a now unmarked grave in Mountain View cemetery, Vancouver.

 

While Metro Vancouver Transit Police may only be just over a decade old it can trace its roots back to the turn of the 20th Century. Research has unearthed a great deal of information about how policing and security of the hydro lines and transit in those early days of the last century evolved into our modern day police service. We can thank Constable Graham Walker for researching much of what we know about the evolution of our organization.

 

This research included the discovery of Special Constable Charles Painter’s death while carrying out his duties. Further research showed that his death was not recorded on the BC Law Enforcement Memorial (BCLEM) Honour Roll although he qualified for inclusion.

 

Following an application to the BCLEM for the recognition of Special Constable Charles Painter, we are pleased to announce that the application has been accepted. Special Constable Charles Painter will be remembered along with RCMP Cst. Sarah Beckett at the annual BC Law Enforcement Memorial event at Brockton Oval in Stanley Park, Sunday, September 25, 2016 at 1:00pm. Everyone is welcome to attend.

 

Visit bclem.ca for more details.

Transit Police Are Traveling With You

Metro Vancouver Transit Police are traveling with you. Our brand new mobile-friendly website means that it even easier to say something, when you see something, all with your mobile phone.

Visit transitpolice.ca to discreetly report a non-emergency police issue, contact us, download the OnDuty app or text 87-77-77. We take each report that we receive seriously. Check out the safety tips section to find out more about how to keep yourself and your belongings safe while on transit.

Essentially, visiting transitpolice.ca means that you have Transit Police in your pocket on your journey. You can help us keep transit safe. If you see something, say something.

Transit Police Swear in New Chief Officer

On Wednesday March 18, 2016, Doug Lepard was sworn in as Transit Police’s new Chief Officer at the Oath of Office ceremony. The ceremony was attended by numerous dignitaries including Assistant Deputy Minister and Director of Police Services Clayton Pecknold, members of the Transit Police Board and TransLink executive.

Doug LePard is a 35-year police veteran and leader from the Vancouver Police Department. Doug LePard brings to the Transit Police a wealth of policing experience, knowledge of Metro Vancouver and an intimate understanding of Transit Police through his time as member of the Transit Police Board. Find out more about Transit Police’s new Chief Officer.

“Like all progressive police agencies, the Transit Police is evolving, and we will continue to work towards the most effective and efficient model, in collaboration with TransLink and other stakeholders, to provide public safety for the “moving city” that is our public.” said Chief LePard.