Assaults, threats on Toronto parking officers on the rise

Cases of assault and threats against parking officers have risen by about 52 per cent in the last two years, police stats show. File / Global News

Within just over a week, police laid charges in four separate cases of assaults on Toronto parking enforcement officers.

In one of these instances on Monday, an officer suffered first-degree burns to his cheek after a man receiving a ticket allegedly threw a cup of hot coffee at him.

Police statistics show there has been a significant uptick in violence against the city’s parking officers in recent years.

In 2014, there were 52 incidences of assault or threats of bodily harm against officers. The next year, that figure rose to 60.

And in 2016, officers were assaulted or threatened on the job 79 times – an increase of about 52 per cent in two years.

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(Charges were not filed in all cases. These figures represent police records.)

Brian Moniz, operations supervisor for Toronto police parking enforcement, said a shift in enforcement strategy may have had a role in the increase.

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“I think one of the reasons is in 2016, where we had the largest spike, we allocated a lot more of our resources and our officers to the rush hour,” he said on The Morning Show on AM640.

LISTEN: Brian Moniz joins the AM640 Morning Show with Matt Gurney and Supriya Dwivedi

During that time, he explained, officers are more likely to have interactions with vehicles that are occupied, presenting a greater potential for conflict.

Fines for parking infractions are also higher than they used to be, he noted, especially during rush hour. The ticket for stopping in a prohibited area during those times rose from $60 to $150 in 2014.

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As of Thursday, there have been 19 cases involving assaults or threats against parking officers this year, which puts numbers roughly on pace with 2016, when there were 22 by this time.

Moniz said the officers, who are unarmed, are trained to walk away from confrontations with drivers.

“But in many of these situations, like the one the other day with the coffee, that’s unavoidable,” he said.

In that case, which happened in North York, police said the suspect fled the scene but was later arrested.

A Toronto man, 32-year-old Greg Sawyer, faces charges of assault causing bodily harm and assault with a weapon.

Moniz is warning the public that assaults on parking officers are taken very seriously.

“Our members are out there doing there doing their jobs, and if you do assault or threaten one of our members, you know, you are going to be charged, and we are going to issue a press release,” he said.


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