Winnipeg police investigating alleged abduction attempt

Police are investigating after a man tried to pull a woman in her 30s into a van in Winnipeg on Thursday, the latest in a string of violent incidents connected to the transit system spurring promises of a dedicated security team. @_MorganModjeski

By Morgan Modjeski

Police are investigating what they’re calling an instance of suspicious circumstances in the city after a man tried to pull a woman into a van on Thursday morning.

A woman in her 30s advised police she had been waiting for a bus in the area of Kenaston Boulevard and Academy Road when a van approached and a man in the vehicle tried to pull her inside.

Police say the woman was not harmed physically and was able to flee.

Patrol units responded to the area but could not locate the vehicle and police did not have a description at this time.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Winnipeg police at 204-986-6219 or anonymously via Crime Stoppers.

Addressing transit safety

After the alleged abduction attempt Friday morning, the city’s mayor has promised a new transit security team.

“There’s no question that’s a priority,” said Winnipeg’s Mayor Scott Gillingham.

But one expert says police alone won’t address the problem.

Mayor Gillingham says he’s working to make busses safer for both staff and riders.

“We need to make sure that transit riders have certainty when they’re riding the bus, and we need to make sure our bus operators have a safe place to go to work,” Mayor Gillingham

While a timeline has not been confirmed for the introduction of the proposed Transit Security team, Gillingham’s goal is the end of the year.

“Give this security force the proper powers and the proper tools to do the job effectively,” said ATU 1505 President, Chris Scott.

Scott, who represents transit workers, says conversations with city hall have been productive and the recent incident – at a transit stop or not – is cause for pause. He says more security is urgently needed.

“The sooner the better. I would like to see it before the end of summer, the beginning of summer, tomorrow if that was at all feasible. But I’m cautiously optimistic, understanding there are processes. I think the end of the year is the furthest I’d like to see this implemented,” explained Scott.

Robert Montgomery lives nearby where the attempt was made to pull the woman into the vehicle.

“It’s not the greatest feeling to know things happen so close to home, but it is good to know there is a response.”

David Cooper, a professor and transit planning consultant with Leading Mobility, says the issue goes beyond the bus. “You cannot enforce your way out of this.”

“These factors are around mental health. It’s around addictions. It’s around the unhoused. There’s not one solution that’s going to solve the entire dynamic we’re seeing on public transit,” Cooper added.

Cooper says in some cities, transit acts as an unofficial access point for those in need.

Officers need to be trained, or paired with professionals who can offer help beyond a pair of handcuffs.

“If you’re taking only an enforcement approach, it might provide some dedicated services to deal with some of the immediate calls for service some support on, but it doesn’t solve the broader issues we’re seeing on public transit.”

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