The head of Toronto police says the number of hate crimes reported in the city since the onset of the Israel-Hamas war on Oct. 7 has nearly doubled when compared to the same time period from the year prior.

Chief Myron Demkiw provided the updated statistics to the Toronto Police Services Board on Monday and said officers attended 989 calls for reported hate crimes in that time, marking a 93 per cent increase from the same time period in 2023.

Police made 69 arrests and laid 173 charges in connection with those incidents, 203 of which were confirmed to be hate crimes, according to the force.

“It's been 163 days since the Middle East crisis began and the impact on our city is significant,” Demkiw said at a news conference Monday afternoon.

Demkiw noted that although there was a drop in the number of reported hate crimes in December and January, police saw a “significant increase” in February.

He said of the 84 hate crimes in 2024 so far, at least 56 per cent were antisemitic and last month saw the highest number of antisemitic occurrences in city in the last three years.

The group targeted in the second-highest number of reported hate crimes in the city this year is 2SLGBTQ+ communities, followed by Black groups and Muslim, Arab, or Palestinian groups.

Demkiw noted that while under reporting of all types of hate crimes is a concern to police, those related to Islamophobia are especially worrisome.

“I know from talking to people in the community, that Islamophobia is a significant concern. And given our statistics I am concerned about significant under reporting,” he said.

Demkiw said officers have increased patrols in Jewish and Muslim communities across the city and command posts in those areas remain in effect.

Police have responded to 500 protests since Oct. 7

Since Oct. 7, Demkiw said police have responded to at least 500 protests, calling the situation “unprecedented.”

He said there have been instances of multiple protests on a single day in different parts of the city and noted a “change in behavior and tactics” at some of those demonstrations.

Those tactics include the use of vehicles in protests, which Demkiw admits the force hasn’t encountered before, and a documented increase in the “aggression” directed at officers on the ground.

“We've had pop-up events and very rapidly developing events happen recently that required us to [adjust] our response to make sure that our response can also be rapid and effective in the changing dynamics.”

At least 24 protest-related arrests have been made and 30 charges have been laid since Oct. 7, Demkiw said.