Day in the Life: Special Constable Unit (SCU)
The safety and security of OC Transpo customers is all in a day’s work for the Special Constable Unit (SCU).
Special Constables are sworn peace officers who play an important law enforcement and security role in preserving the peace, preventing crime, providing assistance to those in need and protecting customers and employees.
They regularly patrol stations, trains, buses and all OC Tranpo assets and properties to help deter offences and respond quickly to incidents. They’re also much more than that.
We caught up with Sergeant Flint with OC Transpo’s Special Constable Unit (SCU), to find out more about how they’re working 24/7 to keep our transit system safe and help customers.
How do you start your day?
When a Special Constable begins a shift, there is no telling what the day will bring. Special Constables start their shift in the briefing room where they catch up with their platoon to see what the previous shift encountered.
The location and circumstances of each incident are carefully reviewed to allow for data-driven decisions that will help prevent future occurrences and inform education and enforcement activities.
Can you describe a typical shift?
Shifts are typically 12 hours long and take place during the day or night. No matter when they are working, they are prepared to answer their call to duty.
A day in the life of an OC Transpo Special Constable is unpredictable to say the least. There is no normal workday.
“Anything can happen while on duty, so no two days are at all the same. This keeps our entire unit motivated. I also enjoy being the Sergeant for my platoon. I have a great bunch of officers who work well with each other,” he says.
Special Constables have a dedicated communication centre within the Transit Operations Control Centre (TOCC) where they receive incoming calls for service, dispatch and monitor camera feeds across the transit system and liaise with emergency services partners, as well as many other tasks
Special Constables are constantly engaged in a variety of patrols including vehicle, foot, bicycle to name a few of the transit system. While on patrol, Special Constables are standing by to help and are watching for anything out of the ordinary.
Calls for service can be as routine as a customer who needs assistance navigating their way on the growing transit system. They can also include:
- Responding to calls for service on the system
- Keeping an eye out for property damage and other hazards
- Helping unsheltered individuals
- Attending and leading calls for service which through investigation may result in an arrest(s), charges or executing warrants for suspects on or in relation to transit property.
“This is what makes this such an interesting and exciting career to grow in,” says Sergeant. Flint.
He has been with OC Transpo law enforcement since 1999 which was years before the unit received peace officer status in 2007. That’s when the role changed as they received full arrest, charge, and release powers. Prior to joining OC Transpo, Sergeant. Flint served as a member of the Canadian Armed Forces Military Police.
More than just a Special Constable
When not patrolling transit property, Sargeant Flint is a certified instructor for two Ontario Police College (OPC) courses. He is Master Instructor for Police Radar and Lidar, also known as speed measurement. He is also listed with the Crown’s Office and the Ministry of Ontario as an expert witness in court for radar and lidar.
He is also an instructor of the Ontario Police College Frontline Supervisor Course Special Constables and Police. The course is designed for current and upcoming leaders in the policing field.
What is something you wish the public knew?
OC Transpo’s Special Constable Unit has built strong relationships with multiple agencies across Ottawa. A key example of this is the strong partnership that has been established with local shelters and various social service resources through the City of Ottawa’s Unsheltered Task Force.
Comprised of approximately 40 members, this group meets frequently to ensure Ottawa’s vulnerable population has a safe place to go.
This task force has resulted in numerous success stories of how OC Transpo has helped connect Ottawa residents with various social service resources.
“We all have a vested interest in keeping our transit system safe and reliable. The best way for us to do that is to remain highly visible to the public and fellow OC Transpo employees,” says Sergeant Flint.
OC Transpo continues to work with key stakeholders and community partners as part of our ongoing commitment to looking out for the safety of everyone.
Collecting winter clothing donations for a worthy cause
There is more to being a Special Constable than patrolling the transit system. There is a level of compassion that is required as well.
A few winters back, one Special Constable identified the need to pay special attention to those who are less fortunate and may not have appropriate clothing to keep them warm during our frigid months of winter.
The Special Constable Unit’s “Grab and Go Program was born.
“They saw the need to assist vulnerable individuals especially in Ottawa’s winter months,” says Sergeant Flint.
Each patrol vehicle is equipped with a bin that contains , hats, mitts,, and scarves. All officers in the SCU watch for people in need of these items. Whether they are on transit property, a city street or elsewhere we will stop and provide them with items gathered through the “Grab and Go Program "The SCU takes donations, but a few officers have reached into their own wallets to purchase winter clothing.
What should customers do if they feel unsafe?
If customers feel unsafe or need help, they can:
- Approach a Special Constable or OC Transpo employee
- Call 613-741-2478
- Customers who are the victim or witness of a crime on transit property can submit an incident report by calling 613-741-2478
- In the event of an emergency, customers should contact 9-1-1.
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