TTC changes 'use of force' guidelines for transit enforcement staff

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TTC changes 'use of force' guidelines for transit enforcement staff

TTC changes 'use of force' guidelines for transit enforcement staff

The TTC says it is implementing changes to how its transit enforcement staff use force after a report by the city's ombudsman.

The report made over two dozen recommendations, including updating the TTC transit enforcement unit's use of force policy to include the importance of de-escalation techniques and training on how to respond to those affected by mental illness.

The recommendations come after a review of the 2015 brawl between TTC special constables and two men at Union Station after a Maple Leafs game.

"Members of the Transit Enforcement Unit can issue tickets or arrest people," Toronto Ombudsman Susan Opler said in a press release. "Sometimes difficult situations develop. A robust system of oversight is essential to the public having confidence in the services these TTC staff members provide."

TTC spokesman Brad Ross says that 23 of the recommendations are already in place and will be implemented "substantially" by the end of the year.

"We want to ensure transparent oversight," Ross told CBC Toronto. "It's important for public trust and confidence."

In her review, the ombudsman found the TTC's Transit Enforcement Unit missed opportunities to look into the 2015 incident to determine how it could have been avoided.

The ombudsman also said the transit enforcement unit's use of force policy failed to specifically mention de-escalation as an alternative to using force, and both its policy on reporting use of force and how transit enforcement staff are being taught de-escalation techniques were unclear.

"Unless there is a complaint from the public, there is no clear process for investigating the conduct of members of the Transit Enforcement Unit," Opler said. "And the current public reporting of complaints is inadequate."

Ross says that the ombudsman's criticism of not placing emphasis on de-escalation wasn't meant to say the TTC was doing a bad job, but rather to say the transit commission could've done better.

"The ombudsman did in her report indicate and recognize the challenges that our officers face in the course of their duties and they are dedicated, committed and proud of what they do," Ross said.

The TTC says it has accepted all 26 of the report's recommendations and has agreed to provide quarterly updates to the ombudsman on their implementation.