Safety Officers patrolling Winnipeg’s streets and Transit buses

Winnipeg Transit passengers may have noticed some brightly dressed new faces on the bus over the last few weeks. Those faces belong to Safety Officers – members of our new Community Safety Team.

Safety Officers assist individuals experiencing homelessness, addictions, and mental health issues, providing on-scene support and connecting them to appropriate resources. They are trained in employing a trauma-informed approach to their interactions with the public, including using non-violent crisis intervention and de-escalation techniques.

“With many of the public safety challenges we’re facing in Winnipeg, there’s a growing need for a team that is equipped to de-escalate potentially dangerous situations, while at the same time being able to follow through on the social needs of someone in crisis,” said Bob Chrismas, Community Safety Team Lead.

“That could mean stepping in if someone is causing a disturbance on a bus to ensure that everyone is ok, but also ask, ‘Does this person have a safe place to go for the night?’ Safety Officers have the resources to help make those connections.”

The launch of the program follows changes to the Province of Manitoba’s Police Services Amendment Act, which expanded the role of Safety Officers to authorize, among other responsibilities, searches and seizures, and detentions and arrests. All of our Safety Officers are sworn Manitoba Peace Officers.

The intent is to have Safety Officers work alongside Winnipeg’s existing emergency services, safety patrols, and service agencies, helping to free up their resources by responding to less emergent issues.

Two community safety officers wearing high visibility jackets standing in front of a patrol vehicle
Winnipeg Transit passengers may have noticed some brightly dressed new faces on the bus over the last few weeks. Those faces belong to Safety Officers – members of our new Community Safety Team.

“Just recently, for instance, we came across a person laying in the snow on Portage Avenue near a bus shelter. We administered CPR and two doses of naloxone and brought them back to life,” said Chrismas.

The team will initially patrol on and around the Winnipeg Transit system, primarily on routes connected to the Downtown area.

“What drivers and passengers can experience on Transit is a microcosm of many social issues seen in Winnipeg,” said Chrismas.

“We’re working together with our partners to be another set of eyes on these folks, provide what on-scene support we can, or help get them to the help they need.”

Safety Officers can be identified by their yellow, high-visibility uniforms labelled “Safety Officer” on the back. They will be visible on buses, in marked Community Safety Team vehicles, and on-foot around Downtown Winnipeg Transit hubs, such as Graham Avenue.

If you are looking for non-emergency community health and social service resources, contact Manitoba 211.

In case of a police, fire, or medical emergency, always call 9-1-1.

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