10/10/2012 12:11 EDT | Updated 12/10/2012 05:12 EST

Transit police cutting costs and crime

Metro Vancouver's transit police say they are cutting crime rates and overtime costs at the same time.

Chief Neil Dubord says his officers have become more of a presence and there was a lot less crime on the system in the first six months of this year. Crimes against people, including theft, sexual assault and aggravated assault dropped 17 per cent – following the 14 per cent drop in 2011.

At the same time, Dubord says the force cut overtime costs by 50 per cent and expenditures by 1.4 per cent compared to the same period in 2011, putting the service 10 per cent below budget.

A May 2012 review found transit police officers were making double the overtime of their colleagues at the Vancouver Police Department.

In 2009, transit police officers charged more than $1.1 million in overtime. As a comparison, the VPD patrol division charged about half that and is four times the size.

Dubord says police are now focusing on chronic offenders and hot spots like SkyTrain stations and bus loops with a history of problems and arresting fugitives using the system.

"Last year we had a total of about 760 people arrested for breaches and warrants, and this year already in just six months we are at 530 people arrested for breaches and warrants," he said.

He adds their priority going forward is even better protection of people and property with an emphasis on protecting front line transit workers, along with a continued focus on catching fare evaders.