Public Safety Priority at Protests

Office of the Chief
Toronto Police Chief James Ramer unveiled the Service’s operational plan ahead of this weekend’s ‘Convoy for Freedom Protest’ in the city.

At a media conference at police headquarters on February 11, he said public safety and limited disruption to the city and its residents are at the heart of the plan.

“Given the intelligence we acquired, the Service made the decision to scale up its operational response on Wednesday of this week and implemented the closure of Queen’s Park Circle from College St. to Bloor St.,” said Ramer. “Since then, we have closed College St. between Bay St. and Yonge St. to vehicular traffic with the exception of public transit.”

The Chief said there will be a large police presence in and around the downtown core and others areas in the city.

“We have done our best to plan for this based on all the information we have,” he pointed out. “Our approach will be based on what we see in real time.”

Ramer is asking residents to be patient and supportive while his members do their duty to serve and protect.

He noted that the Service will continue to prioritize emergency access routes to hospitals for patients, their families and health care workers.

“Anyone who attempts to disrupt hospital access, routes or emergency operations, including ambulance, fire or police will be subject to strict enforcement,” Ramer said.

A woman in police uniform
An officer posted at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre to ensure access for patients and healthcare workers Photo: Kevin Masterman

In response to the convoy protests, Ontario has declared a state of emergency.

“This will strengthen our ability as police officers to protect public transit, ambulatory and medical services, municipal roadways and pedestrian walkways among other areas,” added Ramer. “We will be reviewing these Orders carefully and providing updated operational direction to our members before this weekend. As we work to protect the public, we ask for your co-operation and patience as you may experience traffic delays in the downtown area and possibly extending into other areas.”

Ramer is recommending that the public avoid going into demonstration areas and consider using public transit if they have to be in those areas.

During last weekend’s demonstration, Toronto Police received support from other police and emergency services along with public and private sector partners.

“It was a collective effort to reach our goal of protecting public safety while securing areas such as Hospital Row and other points of key infrastructure,” said S/Supt. Lauren Pogue. “We also received positive co-operation from the public and those who protested on Saturday. We know that the various security measures in place, either road closures or the increased presence of uniformed police officers can be concerning to local residents and businesses. As we did last weekend, we will do our very best to balance our need to ensure public safety while causing minimal disruption as possible.”

Mayor John Tory, who is also a member of the Toronto Police Services Board, also attended the media conference.

“I am here to make sure that people know of my continued support as Mayor for the work that our police service is doing in partnership with the City to protect our city,” he said. “This is an extremely troubling time for the country. I know that people are upset by what they are seeing and by what they are experiencing…People are not upset by peaceful, legal and respectful protest which is a crucial part of a healthy democracy. What we are seeing goes way beyond that and way outside of the law.”

A woman at a microphone
Staff Superintendent Lauren Pogue speaks at a media conference regarding anticipated protests Photo: Kevin Masterman

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