Calgary

Former Kenyan special forces soldier among new group of transit peace officers

Sixteen new Calgary Transit peace officers graduated on Friday, and the class is a diverse group to serve a more diverse city.

Calgary Transit welcomed 16 new recruits on Friday

Francis Atsulu once served in Kenya's military before moving to Canada. (Reid Southwick/CBC)

Sixteen new Calgary Transit peace officers graduated on Friday, and the class is a diverse group to serve a more diverse city.

It has been three years since the last time Calgary Transit recruited new officers. The group hails from across Canada and abroad, including Iran, El Salvador and Kenya.

Diverse backgrounds

"This gives me an opportunity to work closely with Calgarians. And with my background, because I'm originally from Kenya, there's a lot of people from my community, so that's a good interaction," said Francis Atsulu, one of the new recruits who once served in Kenya's military with the special forces.

Atsulu moved to Canada in 2006, and has worked as a bus driver and train operator.

One of the graduates has a masters degree studying the mitigation of mass casualty events that target transit, another is a forensic psychology centre correctional officer, one was a mental health officer at a remand centre and another worked security at Alpha House.

Others come from backgrounds in the oilfield or construction.

16 new Calgary Transit peace officers graduated on Friday. (Reid Southwick/CBC)

The graduating class is set to fill vacancies that opened up during the recession — restoring transit to its full complement of 101 peace officers.

Transit safety boss, Brian Whitelaw, says the officers will face new challenges, like the need to carry naloxone.

Peace officers have been carrying the antidote since late November, and there have been a number of overdoses on transit property.

"I would have thought that we would have had seven uses of naloxone in a year, not in the first couple of months," said Whitelaw.

With files from Reid Southwick

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