City council to vote on the matter today

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The community services committee has voted to beef up security at the downtown transit terminal.

Following a frightening incident on Easter weekend, during which shrapnel grazed a city employee who was seeking shelter in a locked room at the terminal, the community services committee has approved an increase to transit security.

“Staff recommend doubling the billable contract security hours at transit, ensuring two guards will be physically posted at the transit terminal for all hours of operation, between 6 a.m. and 12:30 a.m.,” a staff report notes. “In order to respond to identified risks at the transit terminal and to support obligation within the Occupational Health and Safety Act, it is recommended this remain in place until such time that the delivery of security services is transferred to city employees or a more permanent contracted solution is in place.”

The move was prompted by four incidents, including three in 2018.

In May 2017, a transit operator was injured when a man assaulted him with a knife on board a bus; on March 29, after being escorted from the property, a man physically assaulted a contracted security guard and threatened the guard with a knife; on April 1, Alexander Stavropoulos was shot by police within the terminal after allegedly attempting to gain access to a security office and charging at police while armed; and on April 25, a man was arrested by police within the terminal after it was confirmed he was armed with a knife and had a desire for self-harm. Two knives were also found on transit property on April 3.

“On a daily basis, Greater Sudbury Police Services officers check in at transit and provide support to security guards posted at that site,” the report continues. “Between Jan. 1 and June 15, GSPS have been at the transit terminal in excess of 214 times whether called for assistance or for a proactive patrol.”

The security enhancements also result from feedback from the transit action plan engagement process and a Greater Sudbury Transit employee survey.

The changes will cost taxpayers.

Officers confronted Stavropoulos inside the terminal during the evening on April 1 after he allegedly tried to access the transit security office while armed with two knives, according to the city. One officer fired shots. Stavropoulos was injured and hospitalized.

“Greater Sudbury Transit is committed to delivering a transportation system that promotes the health, safety, and security of passengers and transit operators. A number of initiatives are currently underway, with a significant emphasis on enhancing the customer experience by creating a transit system that is easily accessible, convenient, comfortable and enjoyable for all passengers,” the report notes. “One key initiative consists of a service level review for security practices at the downtown transit terminal, on board transit buses and more broadly in the downtown core. The safety of transit riders and staff at the transit terminal is a priority. Perceptions of safety among riders and generally within the downtown is also a priority.”

The city is considering taking over security at the terminal next year. In a release, the city said as a next step, staff will prepare a business case for consideration as part of the 2019 budget process. The business case will outline the costs and resources required to transfer security services to the city and to include security services on board buses.

The matter will be before city council for final approval on Tuesday.

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