Transit cops launch See Something, Say Something, campaign

Transit Police
Transit Police's Const. Donna Deis, left, and Const. Leanne Smith spoke to this Canada Line rider about transit safety at the Aberdeen Centre station Thursday morning. A new text message service, launched in December as part of the new See Something, Say Something public awareness campaign, enables riders to discretely contact transit police—at 87 77 77—directly if they encounter a situation, or see something, that makes them feel uncomfortable.
— image credit: Martin van den Hemel photo

Help is now only a few keystrokes away for Canada Line users with Transit Police's introduction of a new text messaging feature last month.

Spokesperson Anne Drennan told The Richmond Review riders can discretely contact transit police using their cellular phones, by text messaging 87 77 77 for non-emergency situations.

While emergency calls, such as crimes in progress, should still be directed to 911, there may be situations where either victims or witnesses cannot speak to an emergency operator. Those situations are ideal for the text messaging number, which is monitored whenever the Canada Line and Skytrain are operating.

"People have a right to ride transit harassment free," Drennan said, adding that during 2014, one of Transit Police's top priorities will be sex offences that occur in and around Canada Line and Skytrain stations.

Last month, Transit Police launched a public awareness campaign aimed at encouraging transit users to contact them whenever they encounter a situation that makes them feel uncomfortable.

The See Something, Say Something campaign encourages victims, witnesses and transit users to serve as the extra sets of eyes and ears for security. A new YouTube video explains how the service works, and the types of situations transit police will respond to.

Whether that's another passenger touching them, staring at them, standing too close to them, or making suggestive or profane comments, Drennan said police want to know.

Drennan said there's no call too small.

Thus far, the service has proven to be a big success, despite the relatively quiet roll out.

Witnesses have reported a man who was bleeding after punching the wall of a train car and behaving violently. Another involved a man drinking on a train while seated beside a baby girl.

Others reports included alcohol consumption, indecent acts and aggressive panhandling.

The new text message service is just one of the new strategies being rolled out.

In a few weeks, Transit Police are also expecting to introduce a new, downloadable app for smart phones, that will enable riders to not only communicate directly with police, but submit crime tips, view crime maps, read about Most Wanted suspects and Transit Police News, and link to social media feeds.

Eventually, the app, developed by MobilePD which developed a similar app for the Victoria Police Department, will enable people to send photos and videos of disconcerting things they see and hear.

Drennan said a presentation about the sexual offence awareness campaign has already been made to the Richmond Family Violence Prevention Network, and a safety presentation was also made to an advisory committee of Richmond Council.

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