London police ramp up resources in anticipation for FoCo

Police footage of the Broughdale Avenue area at around 1:46 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 29, 2018, during FOCO celebrations. Supplied photo / London Police Service

London police have more tools at their disposal this year to try and crack down on out of control party-goers at the fourth annual Western FoCo.

Officers will now be aided by cameras, a surveillance drone and coloured panels attached to telephone poles to help segment Broughdale Avenue into different zones, a move that intends to make coordinating resources an easier task.

Cst. Sandasha Bough said London police have been working for months with fire, paramedics, the city bylaw enforcement, and hospitals to prepare for the massive street party.

“Everything that’s being done in preparation for a large gathering on Broughdale Avenue is focused on safety and the coloured panels, identify zones that will help the city and first responders coordinate a response.”

FoCo was first held four years ago to protest Western University’s decision to push its annual homecoming to a later date surrounded by midterm exams.

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READ MORE: 20,000 people, 134 charges, 57 hospitalized: emergency officials detail 2018 FoCo stats

Last September, an estimated 20,000 people showed up on Broughdale Avenue with 57 hospitalizations, and an estimated 1 in 4 people sustained injuries.

“If we need to get emergency vehicles in that area we are asking that those that are in their clear everyone out. It’s critical that people listen and follow directions,” said Bough.

The cost of first responders related to last year’s FoCo exceeded over $200,000 according to the City and impacted community-wide emergency call response because of the number of first responders needed.

READ MORE: City of London approves public nuisance bylaw changes in an effort to tame Fake Homecoming celebrations

In August, London city council voted to amend London’s public nuisance bylaw to crack down on unsanctioned parties.

With the added rules party-starters will now be responsible for bringing the party to an end. If the city has to step in bring the nuisance to an end, the party-starter will have to cover the cost of any city services deployed.

On top of that, those responsible for the nuisance party will also have to pay an hourly rate for the presence of any emergency services or municipal law enforcement officers who are brought to the scene.

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“Obviously we don’t want the fines and police but were not going to be the lamest people on Broughdale for the one day a year we can have a lit time,” said Osmaan Dawood, an Ivey Business student at Western who lives on Broughdale.

READ MORE: A$AP Rocky to headline Western USC’s Purple Fest despite assault conviction

“Pretty much all I heard is everyone rambling about the big fines that are coming. A lot of people who live on the street are pretty nervous about that, so it feels different for sure,” said Tim Montgomery a kinesiology student at Western who lives on Broughdale.

Jennie Massey, the associate vice president of student experience at Western, spoke with 980 CFPL about how  school is taking steps to help tame FoCo revelries.

This year, Western will be receiving information directly from police about students facing charges, allowing university officials to follow up with further punishment for serious offences.

“By serious, we’re thinking of things like assault, sexual assault, damage or construction to properties, providing alcohol to minors or dangerous activities such as being up on the roof,” said Massey.

READ MORE: Western University’s board approves penalties for student misconduct during Fake Homecoming

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“If a student has violated our code of student conduct the consequences may range from a lesser warning, in some instances it may be a suspension of leadership privileges for a period of time,” said Massey.

“In the very most serious of cases we could be looking at a suspicion or expulsion from the institution.”

Another effort to tame celebrations will be the return of Purple Fest.

The event is organized by Western University’s student council and feature the likes of A$AP Rocky, A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, Tyga and bülow.

The goal of the festival is to draw students away from unsanctioned street parties on Broughdale Avenue.

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