Toronto police scales back presence within TTC system as it modifies security approach

Toronto police are modifying its security approach after deploying additional officers in and around the TTC system in January. (Courtesy: Flickr/Bernard Spragg)

Toronto police are scaling back the number of officers in the city’s transit system as it modifies its enhanced security approach.

In January, the TTC, along with the city and Toronto police, announced there would be a temporary increase in police patrols and presence in the transit system in response to a rise of violence against both TTC customers and employees. 

Toronto police previously said it would have at least 80 officers within the transit system daily staffed with the help of callback shifts, which are shifts filled by off-duty officers in an overtime capacity. 

READ MORE: Toronto police increasing presence on TTC amid rise in violent attacks

The city also added 50 more security guards to the TTC, as well as 20 community safety ambassadors.

On Monday, police announced it would be modifying its approach by returning to primarily deploying on-duty officers in the transit system and incorporating those proactive patrols within regular operational work. Additional support with police callback shifts will resume if necessary, police said. 

“Deployment of police officers remains intelligence-led and the number of officers in the system will vary based on time of day, occurrences and issues identified by the TTC and TPS divisions. Additionally, TPS continues to respond to all calls for service and provide emergency response,” police said in a news release Monday. 

Chief Myron Demkiw said police will remain visible in the transit system and will continue to respond to emergencies and calls for service. 

“Police officers will patrol during the periods that typically generate the most calls for service, where there is a high volume of ridership with times and locations fluctuating based on our intelligence, including the number of calls for police service and information provided by the TTC,” he said in a statement. 

READ MORE: EXCLUSIVE: ‘Deeply concerning’ images show how Toronto’s most vulnerable use the TTC as their last resort

Since the enhanced security measures were implemented, police said officers made more than 314 arrests, including an arrest and firearm seizure at Pioneer Village subway station, the arrest of one person following an unprovoked attack on the Spadina streetcar, and two assault with a weapon incidents.

READ MORE: ‘Harsher penalties needed’: TTC workers calling for more safety measures amid a rash of violent attacks

Officers also provided more than 220 referrals to individuals needing help in accessing social assistance supports, including shelter, food, and mental health services, according to the news release. 

The decision to deploy more officers to the transit system was not well received by everyone. 

Shortly after the decision was made, a group of councillors issued a letter to former Mayor John Tory questioning if other alternatives were considered. 

Tory responded to the letter tweeting, “It’s disappointing that some councillors would rather play politics than work together on immediate and long-term solutions to violence and crime.”

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