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Alberta government wants 100 new police officers to combat violence on transit

April 4, 2023  By The Canadian Press

Apr. 4, 2023, Edmonton, Alta. – The Alberta government wants 100 more street-level police officers hired over the next year and a half as part of a plan to tackle increased violence on the public transit systems of Edmonton and Calgary.

Premier Danielle Smith says she has directed her emergency services minister to get the officers into high-crime areas in both cities.

The province says that between last July and January 2023, Edmonton’s light rail transit system experienced a 75 per cent increase in criminal activity, while Calgary saw an increase of 46 per cent between 2021 and 2022.

The government is also encouraging the cities of Calgary and Edmonton to transfer command and control of transit peace officers to their municipal police services.

As part of its plan, the province is to spend $8 million over three years to increase the number of police and crisis teams, known as PACT, which pairs officers with therapists to respond to emergency calls where there is a mental health concern.

It will provide each city with a new $5-million grant to ensure transit stations and transit vehicles are clear of drug paraphernalia and garbage.

“Safety on public streets is never negotiable,” Smith said in a news release Tuesday.

“We can address root causes like mental health and addiction at the same time, but we will not compromise on security for all Calgarians and Edmontonians.”

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