Criminal activity near CTrain stations on the radar for Calgary mayor, transit officials

After a recent spate of violent crimes near some LRT platforms, Calgary Transit and the mayor say the issue is being addressed to increase safety for CTrain riders.

Calgary police responded to two stabbings on Monday night near two different LRT platforms.

The first occurred close to the Fourth Street S.W. station where one man was sent to Foothills hospital in stable condition with stab wounds. The investigation halted CTrain service temporarily and one person is in custody.

The second happened in the parking lot beside the Southland LRT station, sending one man to hospital in serious condition.

Calgary police are looking to locate female suspect.

In November four teens between the ages of 13 and 15 were each charged with two counts of assault after a pair of Calgary Transit bus drivers were attacked near the Whitehorn LRT station.

Calgary Transit says the increase in crime is due to many societal factors including the pandemic and weakened economy. The opioid crisis, decreased ridership and the recent prolonged cold snap have also help drive up incidences of social disorder and crime.

“All of that taken together, I would say it was expected to see some sort of spike in the criminal activity, but nothing that we weren’t prepared to deal with and obviously that we continue to deal with day to day,” said Samuel Hope, manager for safety and security with Calgary Transit.

Hope says there are 95 peace officers patrolling in a given 24-hour period throughout the network — and Calgary Transit is boosting security further by hiring 38 more peace officers since 2020, with the majority to be deployed by the spring.

There are also 1,200 camera set up throughout the CTrain system that are monitored 24/7 by security agents in the operations control centre.

“(Transit riders) feel that they are safe when they can see a visible uniform presence,” said Hope.

He adds Calgary Transit provides tools for riders to report any concerns including through the ‘Help’ buttons located on platforms and on trains.

There’s also a 24-hour phone line at 403-262-1000 or a text line for cell phone users at 74100, and any serious crimes including violence should be reported to Calgary police through 911.

Calgary police issued a statement on Tuesday afternoon.

“We are committed to working with our partners with Calgary Transit to address the concerns around public safety on and around transit properties. Violence in our city will not be tolerated. Full stop. All Calgarians have the right to move about our city free from fear of harm,” it read.

“Our officers rapidly deploy to render situations safe and thoroughly investigate all cases so that the courts can hold individuals responsible for their actions. We are also continuing to encourage our officers to proactively patrol these areas in the interests of preventing and addressing crime and disorder.

“If you are witness to, or involved in, a matter concerning your immediate safety, call 911 right away.”

TRANSIT PROGRAM TO HELP HOMELESS

Calgary Transit is also partnering with the City of Calgary and numerous social agencies to help those looking to use transit stations to stay wam during cold spells. Three LRT stations, Heritage, Southland and Anderson, are being closed to the public between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. and unhoused individuals are instead offered transport to area shelters.

Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek says there were 141 people at the three designated stations Monday night and 80 were transported to shelters or agencies downtown which are operating with 23 per cent vacancy available.

Gondek says the city is responding now to help those in need whether the root issue is addiction, lack of housing or criminal activity.

She is calling on the province to address the spectrum of drug use supports including abstinence and harm reduction, and to improve the shelter system.

As for the increased presence of people experiencing homelessness on public transit, it has some riders uneasy.

“I press the ‘help’ button to report (suspected drug use) because it’s not a homeless shelter, it’s for people to use transit and its a mess,” said Brian Grant. “We need to find a solution, we need to find a place to put these people.”

As for safety concerns, one transit user says he keeps his distance.

“Follow your gut. I think that’s the most important thing, because people can do anything, anytime. Just stay stick with your gut,” said Connor Neal.

He also recommends taking transit trips in groups.

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