Toronto police increasing presence on TTC amid rise in violent attacks

A Toronto streetcar. (Courtesy: Flickr/Bernard Spragg)

Toronto police are increasing the number of officers on the TTC, amid a series of violent incidents within the city’s transit system.

Police Chief Myron Demkiw, along with Mayor John Tory and TTC CEO Rick Leary held a press conference regarding transit safety Thursday afternoon.

Effective today, Demkiw announced that police will be ensuring at least 80 officers are on patrol within the transit system every day for the foreseeable future. 

“We will do this primarily through a significant number of callback shifts, which are shifts filled by off-duty officers in an overtime capacity. We are doing this so that on-duty, frontline officers remain available to respond to priority calls,” Demkiw said.

Demkiw said the extra officers will focus on reducing victimization while preventing crimes of opportunity and enhancing public safety. 

“…Our officers will be on, in and around the transit system across the city throughout the day and late into the evening, each and every day,” Demkiw said. 

Demkiw added that those who ride the streetcars, buses and subways will “immediately” notice an increased presence of officers. 

Leary called the incidents “worrisome” and added that the TTC will also be increasing the number of special constables in and around the TTC, along with deploying other workers to combat the rise in violence.

“We’re adding more Streets to Homes workers to help in other hotspots to actually help unhoused individuals and get the access to the help that they need. We’re also adding, and improving our camera systems within all of our stations and our vehicles,” he said. 

Leary conceded that there needs to be a long-term solution to decrease the amount of violence in the transit system. 

“The TTC will be at the table with these experts in crime prevention, mental health and addiction and homelessness. We need a coordinated and I’d say passionate approach to this issue,” he said. 

Tory called the increased presence of both TTC constables and officers “the right thing to do.”

He added that it’s a priority for the city to continue investing in crisis services, outreach workers and anti-violence workers to aid in community safety.

“I am committed as mayor to seeing the city actively engaged in all of these areas, but we simply cannot do it alone. And so I will be continuing to urge the other governments to make additional investments in community safety, in mental health, in addiction treatment, just to cite three important examples,” he said.

The boost in police presence comes in the wake of a rash of violent incidents on the transit system in the past week. 

In the last five days alone, there were at least six violent incidents in or on the TTC. 

On Wednesday, the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU), which represents more than 35,000 TTC workers, issued a statement calling on the TTC to take more action against the spike in violence against their workers.

Tory, Leary and Demkiw are set to meet on Friday to continue their ongoing discussions about addressing the rise in violence. 

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