Should transit driver Dino Oroc be celebrated or terminated for chasing assault suspect?

Matt Coutts

A transit driver who was suspended after jumping from his streetcar and chasing a sexual assault suspect down the street has prompted a flurry of criticism toward the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) for its decision to punish the act of Good Samaritan-ship.

CBC first reported that the Toronto streetcar driver stopped his vehicle and alerted police after a female passenger was allegedly sexually assaulted Wednesday afternoon. The suspect managed to escape the vehicle and both the victim and driver gave chase.

A TTC spokesman told the network that drivers are not allowed to leave their vehicles unattended. He has been suspended and depending on the driver's previous record, he could lose his job.

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The Globe and Mail reported on Friday that the TTC defended its decision to suspend Dino Oroc.

TTC spokesman Brad Ross, via the Globe:

That's not the role of a TTC operator, understanding and accepting full well that perhaps he had nothing but the best of intentions. The issue for us cannot be one of public opinion; it needs to be one of what are our policies, what are our protocols and our procedures with respect to safety for all.

Public transit operators across the country hold a complicated relationship with their passengers. Aside from the exchange of pleasantries or cases of complaint, there is little interaction between the two parties. Still, they assume a level of responsibility for our safety while we are in their care.

In Toronto, that relationship has been a powder keg for some time. A public war erupted recently after a transit worker was photographed sleeping on the job, and boiled over into a series of events that strained the public's trust.

But the TTC has more recently taken steps to improve its relationship with customers and, unless they are throwing passenger off a bus to accommodate the mayor's football team, they seem to be succeeding.

This could have been a feather in their cap: A driver that risked himself to protect his passenger.

The case brings to mind the inspiring story of a Chinatown store owner targeted by a repeat shoplifter until he took matters into his own hands.

David Chen, owner of the Lucky Moose market, chased down and detained a man who had repeatedly shoplifted from his store. Chen was charged for the improper citizen's arrest, but was later acquitted.

You may have heard of that case. Stephen Harper did. The outcry over Chen's arrest prompted a flurry of debate and eventually led to the introduction of wider citizen's arrest laws in Canada.

Had Dino Oroc caught the suspect and held him until police arrived, we might have seen that law put into action. We could have seen that driver celebrated for selflessly defending one of his passengers.

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We should have seen him cheered. Instead, we could see him fired.

Anyone got a job opening for a Good Samaritan?