Opinion Column

Speak up about bad transit behaviour

Leo Knight Prime Time Crime columnist 24 hours (PHOTO SUBMITTED).

By Leo Knight, Law and Order, 24 hours Vancouver

Transit Police released video of a man who allegedly grabbed a female at a local SkyTrain station on Sept. 6, 2013.

Transit Police released video of a man who allegedly grabbed a female at a local SkyTrain station on Sept. 6, 2013. (SCREEN GRAB SUBMITTED)

When Transit Police announced the arrest of Sebastian Ramon Lopez — a 37-year-old White Rock man —on Monday, they took the opportunity to promote their sexual offences awareness program.

The announcement of the arrest came on the heels of the release on Sunday of video images of a man Transit Police are seeking to identify after an alleged sexual predator incident involving a female Japanese student.

In talking about the Lopez case, Transit Police media liaison Anne Drennan said they had had almost 50 dealings with Lopez. And the reality is that he is only one of many “frequent fliers” that Transit Police are dealing with on a regular basis.

Now, admittedly, I don’t ride public transit regularly. About a month ago, I had occasion to ride SkyTrain and the SeaBus. On SkyTrain between Yaletown and Waterfront stations, I listened as a man, about 30 years old, began a conversation with a younger female standing near him. It was a conversation that her body language clearly showed she was uncomfortable with.

The man’s topic of conversation was along the lines of “if size matters” that was over-the-top inappropriate. I stepped in and told the guy so and to leave the girl alone. He did and she was thankful. But that’s all I did. The behaviour wasn’t criminal, at least not to the point where I stepped in, so I didn’t report it.

That was wrong. Transit Police members tell me that these type of sexually harassing events are “prevalent,” and often turn into a criminal offence. The problem they have is that most of these “creeping” events are not reported.

Or they get vague information from a third party, but they cannot identify a victim. No victim, no crime so to speak. Transit Police say they want all incidents reported even if they aren’t criminal so they can identify the perpetrators.

While TransLink, as an entity, typically doesn’t like it when Transit Police talk about anything negative that happens on the system, bad things do happen regularly and people need to report them to the Transit Police. That’s why they have instituted their “See something, say something” initiative, along with their text message reporting platform (text 87-77-77).

Transit Police are working hard to make the system as safe as they can for the travelling public. They need your help.

Leo Knight is a former police officer, security expert and host of primetimecrime.com. Comment at Vancouver.24hrs.ca/opinion.



Have you ever tried to stop harassing behaviour on public transit?

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