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Make TTC Special Constables Full Police Officers

March 2008
 
In light of the recent shooting at the Spadina subway station (Witness to a shooting, March 29), it’s high time the Toronto Transit Commission Special Constables were given full police status and armed. Currently, as unarmed Special Constables, they are Peace Officers and as such have the authority of a Police Officer on or in relation to TTC property, including busses and streetcars. Accordingly, they are expected to act just like Police Officers. They dress in uniforms that look quite similar to Toronto Police uniforms, have batons and pepper spray and function as Transit Police, not as Security Officers.

 

The initial reaction is that we just call Toronto Police when there is serious trouble on the TTC. Well Toronto Police officers are not always near TTC property, but for the TTC Special Cst., that is their turf. With a city the size of Toronto however, it is debatable as to who would get to the scene of a shooting or other dangerous situation first, especially given that there are around 88 Special Constables for the whole city. But what if an unarmed TTC Special Cst. was the first on the scene of a shooting and the suspect, thinking it was a police officer, started shooting at them?

If TTC Special Constables routinely seize both real and replica guns (on average, three a month). What if they are confront or are confronted by individuals carrying weapons? By then it probably would have been to late to back off and wait for armed Police to arrive.

For those who think that arming TTC Officers will result in wild west shootouts in the TTC tunnels: GET REAL!!! TTC Special Constables would have to receive proper training on gun usage, including annual re-qualification training, just like Police. This would also include training on when and when not to shoot (eg: innocent civilians in the background!). Even Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair, a man who spends very little of his time responding to police calls for service, has to re-qualify yearly or loose the privilege of carrying a gun when he needs it.

Need more proof? Even Brinks Security Officers receive handgun training prior to going out on the road for the first time.

A lot of people I hear insist that only Police should be armed. Well then make the TTC Officers full Police. Vancouver recently made their transit officers full Police Officers. With GUNS!!!

Why is it that Law Enforcement officers like Railway Police Officers, Federal Correctional Officers and Conservation officers are armed, but Transit (and University) Special Constables are not? Heck, even Federal Fisheries Officers are armed with high-powered military-type rifles.

The initial reaction is that we just call Toronto Police when there is serious trouble on the TTC. Well Toronto Police officers are not always near TTC property, but for the TTC Special Cst., that is their turf. With a city the size of Toronto however, it is debatable as to who would get to the scene of a shooting or other dangerous situation first, especially given that there are around 88 Special Constables for the whole city. But what if an unarmed TTC Special Cst. was the first on the scene of a shooting and the suspect, thinking it was a police officer, started shooting at them?

If that’s not enought in 2005, the Greater Vancouver Transportation Authority made their transit officers full Police Officers. With GUNS!!! What the TTC need to decide is what do they want: a Police Service or Security Guards. If they want Police, they need to equip them properly.

About the author

Bruce Forsyth

Bruce Forsyth served in the Royal Canadian Navy Reserve for 13 years (1987-2000). He served with units in Toronto, Hamilton & Windsor and worked or trained at CFB Esquimalt, CFB Halifax, CFB Petawawa, CFB Kingston, CFB Toronto, Camp Borden, The Burwash Training Area and LFCA Training Centre Meaford.

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