Union representing city bus drivers calls for transit police
Published Tuesday, July 3, 2012 4:41PM CST
Last Updated Tuesday, July 3, 2012 6:17PM CST
Since 2006, attacks on Winnipeg bus drivers are up 300 percent, leading the city to come up with a safety strategy report as a move to increase safety for drivers and riders.
This year, there have been 29 attacks on board of Winnipeg transit buses, including a pepper spraying incident on Sunday night.
The city is recommending changing the angles of surveillance cameras to capture the entire interior of a bus, including the driver’s compartment, which is currently off camera.
Officials say this will not only help to better detect and deter crime, but also aid with investigations and prosecutions.
The union representing the drivers doesn't like the idea of changing camera angles, saying it infringes on privacy.
"I don't know how many people in the City of Winnipeg, if any have cameras sitting on top of them at their work stations,” says Jim Girden, who is the president of the Amalgamated Transit Union. “We need the protection. We don't need the cameras looking at us."
Instead, the union and Winnipeg Labour Council want transit police who can charge or at least ticket offenders.
"I think it's one of the best ways to go,” says Dave Sauer of the Winnipeg Labour Council. “I think if you look at all major transit systems in North America they have methods of transit police.”
The two parties are also pushing for more self-defence training. Currently, drivers get a one day lesson.
The city says it acknowledges the need for balance between bus driver privacy and safety.
Other suggestions for increasing safety from the report include: new decals on each bus defining assault and publishing the fact that off duty police officers can ride the bus for free.
The union says it would like to see a push towards fully prosecuting suspects who attack anyone on board and a public safety campaign on respecting drivers.
-- with a report from CTV’s Stacey Ashley