Cops target boozing on buses

SEE VIDEO http://www.ottawasun.com/2012/06/20/cops-target-boozing-on-buses

Chugging beer on the bus just got a little riskier.

Ottawa police are looking to ramp up their partnership with OC Transpo throughout the summer to target criminal activity on buses and transit properties in the east end.

Cops recently conducted a two-day blitz, dishing out 51 charges, including 21 Liquor Licence Act violations.

“These smaller crimes, of course, lead to bigger crimes ’cause if you have someone drinking on the bus and then they get drunk, then they get in fights,” said Staff Sgt. Roley Campbell.

“Fights sometimes develop into robberies or assaults.”

With classes out and many people on vacation, boozing on the bus is “a little bit more prolific in the summer months,” said Campbell, adding it’s often young people “pre-party drinking” as they’re heading downtown or returning from the Byward Market.

“So we try to deal with it on the onset of summer, as opposed to trying to play catch up in the later months.”

Police and Transpo special constables are targeting Hurdman station, South Keys station, Elmvale Acres, St. Laurent centre, Place d’Orléans, Laurier St., and Rideau St.

Plain clothes officers either ride the bus or hang out at the terminal.

“They’re making the observations, radioing back to our uniformed team,” said Campbell.

“We have male, female, young, old (officers).”

Other common infractions include trespassing, soliciting, and drug offences.

During the last blitz, someone was caught “smoking a joint, with a plain clothes officer standing right next to him,” said Campbell.

In total, police seized 7.4 grams of marijuana and one gram of crack cocaine.

Eight charges were laid under the Safe Streets Act, along with nine Trespass to Property Act violations, and eight bylaw infractions.

In addition, two Controlled Drugs and Substances Act charges and three Criminal Code charges were laid.

Police are coordinating with Transpo for their next enforcement date.

“I would like to do this every weekend, but you know, we have other activities we’ve got to take care of,” said Campbell.

“Maybe one night we’ll do it for an hour or two and then carry on with other things.”

He dismisses the notion these are minor crimes.

“These are quality of life crimes that really piss people off, especially people who are legitimately riding the bus,” Campbell said.

“They’re trying to either come home from work or go somewhere with their kids…I wouldn’t bring my kid on the bus if there’s people smoking dope or drinking on the bus.”

kelly.roche@sunmedia.ca

@ottawasunkroche

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