"Reason is always a kind of brute force; those who appeal to the head rather than the heart, however pallid and polite, are necessarily men of violence. We speak of 'touching' a man's heart, but we can do nothing to his head but hit it." --G.K. Chesterton

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Crime and the Evergreen Line: No new Transit Police

Evergreen Line construction. (Photo by Terry O'Neill)
Today's Vancouver Sun and Tri-City News each have stories about an interesting report, prepared for the Transit police, about the possible impact of new Evergreen Line SkyTrain stations on crime rates around the station. In short, the study predicts no increase in crime rates.
That's fine as far as it goes, and I have no reason to doubt the veracity of the report. However, neither the stories nor the report itself tell the whole story.
First point: Even though the Evergreen Line will add six new stations to Metro's rapid-transit system, and even though an additional 70,000 riders will use the system once the line opens in the summer of 2016, the Transit Police force will not add a single new officer to its force in response to the opening of the new line.
Chief Officer Neil Dubord confirmed this fact with me in a telephone conversation I had with him earlier today. Instead, the force will realign its services to establish what Dubord calls "hubs of safety," at "high-visibility points" at which Transit Police, Transit security personnel, and SkyTrain attendants can cluster, and from which they can quickly respond to reports of problems.
For the Evergreen Line, the "hub of safety" will be at the Lougheed Station. "It's almost like a hub and spoke [system]," Dubord told me.
Fair enough, and I'm sure these hubs will be staffed with high-quality professionals. But I hope this doesn't mean that Coquitlam RCMP will be forced to respond to incidents that have heretofore been handled on existing lines by Transit Police. If Coquitlam Mounties are, indeed, called into action in such circumstances, it will undoubtedly increase the City of Coquitlam's costs and will thereby represent a downloading of costs onto municipal taxpayers.
Second point: Note that the report talks about crime rates, with an emphasis on rates. Given that populations are already increasing rapidly around planned Evergreen Line stations, and that the populations will continue to increase once those stations are open for business, we will undoubtedly see an increase in the real number of actual crimes committed in and around those stations if the rate stays the same--which it is predicted to do.
Moreover, experience with other rapid-transit systems suggest there will be a high number of quasi-criminal or near-criminal disturbances in and around Evergreen Line stations.
Bottom line: the number of real crimes will increase because of population growth around Evergreen Line stations, 70,000 new riders a day will use the Evergreen Line, but authorities are adding no new Transit Police officers to the system.

1 comment:

  1. In addition to Transit Police, Translink has Transit Security. Transit Security has powers of arrest for criminal offences they find committing on Transit property. Transit Security can also issue fare evasion fines and enforce transit conduct rules and regulations. Since I don't drive, I take Transit everyday. I frequently see Transit Security at the Coquitlam bus loop. My guess is, with Transit Security around and Skytrain Attendants in the stations, they don't need new Transit Police. I rarely see Transit Police unless something serious has happened. I feel safe with Transit Security.