Toronto's Ombudsman says the Toronto Transit Commission needs to improve oversight and supervision of the transit enforcement staff working at its stations and on its trains, buses and streetcars.
Susan Opler today released the report of the Ombudsman Toronto Investigation into the TTC's Oversight of its Transit Enforcement Unit, which includes transit enforcement officers (who enforce the law on TTC property and have police-like powers) and transit fare inspectors (who enforce the Proof of Payment system). Ombudsman Toronto began its enquiry after videos on social media showing a physical altercation at Union Station between transit enforcement officers and two members of the public generated significant public concern.
“Members of the Transit Enforcement Unit can issue tickets or arrest people," says Opler. “Sometimes difficult situations develop. A robust system of oversight is essential to the public having confidence in the services these TTC staff members provide. This will be increasingly important as the TTC expands Proof-of-Payment inspections throughout the system.”
Ombudsman Toronto's investigation found that:
- The Transit Enforcement Unit missed an opportunity to examine the incident at Union Station involving Transit Enforcement Officers to determine how the incident might have been avoided.
- The Transit Enforcement Unit's policy on reporting use of force incidents is unclear, and its use of force policy does not specifically address de-escalation as an alternative to use of force.
- It is not clear how transit enforcement staff are being taught and evaluated on de-escalation skills.
- There is no internal tracking of use of force incidents to detect and address use of force trends.
- There is no process for monitoring complaint trends about transit enforcement staff.
“The TTC needs to improve its oversight and monitoring,” says Opler. “Unless there is a complaint from the public, there is no clear process for investigating the conduct of members of the Transit Enforcement Unit. And the current public reporting of complaints is inadequate.”
The TTC has accepted all of the report’s 26 recommendations. Among other things, it has agreed to:
- Examine the Union Station incident to consider how it might have been avoided and whether new policies or procedures could help prevent a similar incident.
- Clearly outline the importance of de-escalation in its training materials.
- Ensure that transit enforcement officers and transit fare inspectors receive regular training on responding to people with mental illness or in emotional distress.
- Publish annual reports on use of force incidents and complaint trends.
The TTC will update Ombudsman Toronto every three months on the implementation of the report’s recommendations.
The full report can be viewed on Ombudsman Toronto's website. Copies are also available on request.
For more information or to arrange interviews, contact:
Access and Education Assistant
Ombudsman Toronto listens to and investigates complaints and concerns about City services. We are a free and impartial office that is independent of the City administration, holding it accountable to the people it serves.