Toronto Police axe special constables after TTC’s security goes mad with power
The TTC’s special constable program is more than 10 years old and certainly seemed like a good idea at the time. Instead of simple security guards, the TTC would get sworn peace officers with much broader authority who could arrest people. Unfortunately, it seems like things might have gotten a bit out of hand, and yesterday the Toronto Police Services Board voted to scrap the program. According to the Toronto Star, some of these constables let the power go to their heads.
Removing special constable status means uniformed TTC security staff will continue to act as trespassing, security and bylaw enforcement officers, but will no longer be allowed to arrest, detain or release suspected criminals or transport mentally disturbed individuals to health facilities. Instead, they will have to call Toronto Police for assistance.
Among the incidents that came up at the police board was that of a TTC special constable who seized contraband cigarettes from a convenience store, and one in which a constable allegedly transported someone to a mental health facility in Penetanguishene.
Apparently, dealing with the mental health issues of riders is a common problem for the special constables. Supporters of the program say the cops can intervene in possible suicides in ways that mere TTC security can’t. The decision to scrap the program is about efficiency and not just a few questionable acts, but here’s hoping it won’t put any lives at risk.
• TTC constables overstepped authority, police board alleges [Toronto Star]
• Toronto police axe TTC special constable program [CTV News]
• TTC special constable program scrapped [CBC News]
• Police board ends use of TTC special constables [Toronto Sun]