TTC buses and city maintenance trucks are just two of the tools Toronto Police are now using to help protect crowds during large public events.
The security changes come in light of recent terror attacks in Europe, including ambushes that killed 12 people at a Christmas Market in Berlin, Germany and 7 people on London Bridge. In both attacks a vehicle was driven into large crowds of pedestrians.
Those acts of violence have prompted Toronto Police to take action.
TTC staff confirm Toronto Police requested buses for the purpose of creating a safety perimeter during the Pride Parade in June and during Canada Day festivities at Nathan Phillips Square.
“What you’re seeing is us using not just front line police officers, but other vehicles in order to provide that enhanced security,” Toronto Police Service spokesperson Meaghan Gray confirmed during an exclusive interview with CityNews.
“If we look at some of the incidents that we’ve seen in other parts of the world where vehicles have been used, we’re always looking at that as a possibility when we look at those types of events where there are large crowds gathered.”
Bremner Boulevard was completely shut down to vehicle traffic on Sunday following the Blue Jays game at Rogers Centre. Condo residents in the area have been told they’ll have to deal with similar closures for most if not all of the team’s remaining home games this season.
Mario Coutinho, Vice President of Stadium Operations and Security at Rogers Centre, confirmed the changes in a written statement to CityNews.
“The Blue Jays and Rogers Centre are committed to providing guests with a safe and secure environment. We continue to work with Toronto Police and our emergency services partners on a postgame traffic management plan, which is now in effect for all future Rogers Centre events.”
Gray confirms specially-trained officers are also being deployed to protect large events such as sporting events and public celebrations. A Public Safety Response Team was recently established as part of a transformational task force headed up by Chief Mark Saunders.
“It’s a dedicated group of officers that are specially trained to support the front line in providing just that enhanced presence when it comes to large-scale events and other needs that can support the front line in delivering policing,” said Gray.
One Toronto Police officer told CityNews on Sunday that concrete barriers will be installed along Bremner Boulevard to prevent vehicles from mounting the sidewalk and hitting pedestrians.
Coutinho would not confirm that plan, writing only that “with respect to any future security updates to the building’s exterior, this is currently being addressed in collaboration with Toronto Police and the City of Toronto.”
While you may notice additional officers and security barriers at future events in Toronto, Gray insists these are simply an extra precaution.
“We have no specific threat that we’re responding to. We’re just reconsidering how we police these large-scaled events where we have large crowds of people. I think that citizens can expect to see a little bit more of that in the days and weeks and months coming forward.”