Ban suspected sex offenders from buses, SkyTrain, say Transit Police
Anne Drennan says transit doesn't have resources to police suspected sex offenders, wants some banned
Metro Vancouver's transit police are calling for some suspects of sexual assaults to be banned from taking transit as part of their bail conditions.
Earlier this month, transit police arrested 27-year-old Mukesh Yasarapu, who was charged with two counts of sexual assault related to separate incidents that took place on buses.
Transit police asked for Yasarapu to be banned from riding the bus, but the court denied the request, instead releasing him on a number of conditions, including one that allows him to keep riding on transit as long as he stays away from women.
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Transit police spokesperson Anne Drennan said when the court imposes conditions like that, they are difficult to police.
"They establish conditions that we think, a lot of times, are just ridiculous," said Drennan.
"They'll say you can ride the bus still, but you have to stand or sit within 15 feet of the driver, so the driver can presumably keep an eye on you. Well the driver is busy driving a huge bus."
Breach of conditions leads to jail time
Josh Patterson, the executive director of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, empathizes that bus drivers can't police every suspect, but said bail conditions are often taken very seriously by those charged.
"The way these conditions work is you, as the individual, are required to keep them. If you are found — and people are found — you go to jail," he said.
"These are people that have not yet been convicted of anything. They're innocent … it's not a step to be taken lightly."
However, Patterson said, in very rare cases it may be appropriate for the courts to impose a full ban.
"Bail conditions have got to be tailored to the very specific individual circumstances of every person who comes in front of the court. There may very well be some circumstances in which that would be appropriate."
In absence of ban, suspects could be accompanied
The request to ban Yasarapu from transit isn't the first made by transit police.
The force has repeatedly asked judges for complete bans on riding transit for people who are charged, but not convicted of sexual assaults.
Drennan said those requests are often denied because the suspects may still have to get to work, doctors appointments, meetings with lawyers and other appointments.
She said one solution to that would be conditions that require someone to accompany them on public transit who is aware of the charges and conditions they have to follow.
Drennan said a ban on riding the bus isn't requested for all suspects, just for prolific offenders. Yasarapu did not have a past criminal record.
To hear the full interview with Anne Drennan, listen to the audio labelled: Transit police want sex offenders banned.