Toronto Police announced Monday that its enhanced presence on the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) has come to an end.
Police teamed up with the TTC earlier this year in response to the surge of violent attacks that were taking place within TTC spaces.
An additional 80 officers were deployed to patrol TTC buses, subways, streetcars and platforms on Jan. 26 and lasted throughout the month of February.
Chief of Police Myron Demkiw said the intentions behind the additional police presence was to create a safer space for TTC riders and the city at large.
“These deployments will focus on reducing victimization, preventing crimes of opportunity and enhancing public safety,” Demkiw said.
Now that the additional safety services have ended, TPS plans to resume its regular police patrolling, and support the TTC with further security measures when needed.
TTC rider, Mohamed Sikkandar, said the extra police presence during his daily commute provided a secure, more protected experience.
“I felt more protected and safer…I’ve never felt that way before,” he said. “They would sit right beside us, talk to us, tell us that they’re here for us.”
Sikkandar said that he noticed the additional police presence mostly in the evenings between the hours of 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.
He said that besides being welcoming to the riders, the police assisted vulnerable populations in situations of crisis.
Sikkandar also said that in situations like these, it wasn’t solely him that appreciated the extra police presence, but also his fellow riders.
“People feel much safer when you see a police officer around than if there’s no one else when there’s a problem or an issue,” he said. “They were friendly and ready to help.”
Police said that throughout the enhanced safety program, officers provided more than 220 referrals to those in need of social assistance supports such as food, shelter, and mental health services.
The statement said more than 314 arrests had been made by officers during this time, including an incident involving an arrest and seizure of a firearm at Pioneer Village subway station.
City Manager Paul Johnson told the Toronto 2023 budget meeting on Feb. 15 that the monthly cost of the police initiative was $1.7 million, all of that overtime.
TTC CEO Rick Leary said he was grateful for the swift action police had taken when taking on this project earlier this year, and that the presence of officers is pinnacle to TTC safety.
“This partnership is essential to addressing the complex safety and security challenges the TTC has been facing recently,” Leary said.
However, not all riders feel as if the TPS are supporting both riders and the city at large.
A TTC rider, who didn’t disclose his identity not to risk his personal safety, said the one-month pilot project with the transit system and police was nothing but a distraction to the bigger picture at hand.
“It was a grab for taxpayer money,” he said. “How did they expect to solve all the TTC’s problems in a one-month pilot project?”
The rider said the city should do better to help vulnerable people get warm shelter and housing facilities rather than fund police-based surveillance programs.
“Of course homeless people are going to seek shelter on transit, hell I would too if I were them,” he said.
“It was a waste of our time,” he said. “It was a waste of our time and money.”
Following the end of the additional patrolling, TTC has rolled out an SMS reporting program where riders can text 647-496-1940 to report immediate matters concerning safety and security.