Toronto police enforcement teams laid more than 200 charges during first week of operation
Published Friday, April 30, 2021 11:44AM EDT
Last Updated Friday, April 30, 2021 3:03PM EDT
A number of dedicated enforcement teams that are tapped with responding to calls about large gatherings laid more than 200 charges during their first week of operation, Toronto police say.
Toronto Police announced the creation of enforcement teams in each of their 16 divisions last week amid a push by the Ford government to ensure greater compliance with the stay-at-home order.
In a news release issued on Friday, police said that the teams have responded to a total of 315 incidents since April 22, including 105 calls for gatherings this week alone.
They laid 230 charged under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act in their first week of operation, the release notes.
“We are past the point of warnings,” Inspector Matt Moyer told CP24 on Friday afternoon. “We are in the middle of a pandemic, this is a worldwide event and we are at the point now where we are issuing tickets at every opportunity we get. There is messaging that goes with it as well but I think it is really important that we are at the enforcement stage because people need to be held accountable when they put other members of the community, who are abiding by these restrictions, at risk.”
Premier Doug Ford initially handed police sweeping powers to arbitrarily stop and question people to ensure compliance with the stay-at-home order but he reversed that decision less than 24 hours later and later apologized for making it in the first place.
Nonetheless, Toronto police have reiterated that they will not be conducting random stops of people or cars and that individuals “are not compelled to explain why they are out of their residence” to their officers.
Instead, police say that the enforcement teams are largely focused on “large indoor events being held at short-term rentals, and in closed bars and restaurants,” where there is an increase risk of contracting COVID-19.
“This is driven by our communities,” Moyer told CP24. “They generate all these calls for service. They are asking us to go to large gathering calls, parties, beach parties, outdoor events and attend short-term rentals because the community sees that people are compromising pubic safety and putting themselves at risk. They watch people having these events and parties and gatherings and they are asking for police support.”
Moyer said that each dedicated enforcement unit has four officers and one sergeant assigned to it. He said that while they primarily work on a complaint-basis; they are also going out to hotspots in their communities where large gatherings have been held in the past.
The fine for violating any emergency order, including the stay-at-home order, is $750.
“We are looking at over 230 charges over the last week and that is quite a significant messages we are sending out to those chronic offenders,” Moyer said.