More police to be in place on Toronto transit to boost safety following violence
Dozens of officers will be deployed throughout the TTC
By Tyler Griffin and Maan Alhmidi in Toronto
Toronto police will increase their daily presence on city transit, effective immediately, in light of recent violence in the system, the force’s chief said Wednesday.
Chief Myron Demkiw said more than 80 officers are expected to be in place throughout Toronto Transit Commission locations across the city to reduce victimization, prevent crimes of opportunity and enhance public safety.
“We have moved quickly together, with the Toronto Police Services Board and mayor’s support, to establish a sustainable solution to address the safety of everyone who uses our transit system,” he said at a press conference at Toronto Police Headquarters.
“Officers from across the city are participating in this enhancement and those who ride the transit will immediately notice an increased presence of Toronto police officers in the subways, on the streetcars and buses.”
The patrol shifts will be filled primarily by off-duty officers working paid overtime shifts so frontline officers can keep responding to priority calls, Demkiw said.
The TTC has seen several cases of violence in recent weeks, including stabbings, shootings with BB guns and a swarming.
TTC CEO Rick Leary said the transit system is a “microcosm” of wider issues playing out in the city.
“We don’t know exactly what is behind these incidents,” he said. “But we know that the root causes are complex and they’re going to require a co-ordinated approach and response.”
Leary said the TTC is in the process of hiring additional special constables, outreach workers and adding and improving its camera systems.
Toronto Mayor John Tory said Thursday’s announcement of more police in the system is just one step toward addressing safety concerns on public transit that came out of ongoing discussions between the city, the TTC, its union representatives and police.
“I know many people who use the TTC — the passengers are anxious and even scared,” said Tory.
“They must know that we are doing everything we can that will be helpful to address their concerns and to make sure everyone remains safe and feel that their security concerns are being addressed, knowing that there is more to do.”
TTC spokesman Stuart Green noted that the transit system “moves hundreds of millions of customers every year without incident, but we cannot and do not take that for granted.”
On Thursday, police said four teenagers had been arrested after a group of teens allegedly shot at a subway passenger with a BB gun.
That came after a teen boy was stabbed on a city bus on Wednesday, a woman was stabbed in the head on a streetcar on Tuesday and two uniformed TTC workers were allegedly swarmed and assaulted on a bus on their way to work Monday, police have said.
Last week, police said a TTC driver was shot with a BB gun, a person wearing a religious head covering was hit at a subway station in an alleged hate-motivated assault and a man tried to push someone onto the subway tracks at a downtown station.
The president of the union representing TTC workers penned an open letter to the prime minister Thursday calling for an “immediate and direct injection” of resources for violence prevention, mental health relief and homelessness on the transit system.
– with files from Jordan Press.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2023.
Banner image: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Arlyn McAdorey