Toronto police axe TTC special constable program
File image of a TTC streetcar accident scene on the Spadina Avenue line. (Bill Doskoch/ctvtoronto.ca)
Published Friday, October 22, 2010 8:50AM EDT
The Toronto Police Services Board has decided to pull dedicated special constables from the TTC, causing major adjustments to how Toronto's transit system will be patrolled.
The decision, approved during a board meeting on Thursday, will go into effect on Feb. 1, 2011.
The program began last spring, placing 42 special constables on patrol in the subway system.
Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair suggested the TTC hire security guards instead.
However, special constables had the ability to make arrests on the TTC, which security guards would not have.
In his report to the board, Blair said the Toronto Police Service will continue to enforce the law across the city, including within the transit system. Currently, 80 armed police officers in uniform patrol the subways.
Blair said the presence of armed officers made the cost associated with the special constable program unnecessary.
TTC chair Adam Giambrone had requested the board defer its decision to give time for more discussion.
"Revoking the agreement will result in major changes to security and policing in the transit system," Giambrone wrote in a letter submitted to the board.
The special constables are employees of the TTC who are given the same powers of arrest as police officers. However, they are not armed.
Recently, the special constables were tasked with fining discourteous behavior, including not giving up subway seats to elderly or disabled passengers, or putting feet up on seats.
They are also responsible for several high-profile arrests, including that of a man accused of pushing a woman onto the subway tracks on Christmas Eve.