Western’s FoCo party resulted in over $300K in policing costs, 31 hospitalized: emergency officials

Thousands of students and partiers gather along Broughdale Avenue to celebrate 2019's unsanctioned Fake Homecoming (FOCO). Kelly Wang / Global News

London police estimate 25,000 people descended on Broughdale Avenue on Saturday for Western’s FoCo party, or Fake Homecoming, totalling upwards of $300,000 in policing costs.

At the end of the day, there were 809 calls to emergency services, with police making 14 arrests and issuing 62 tickets and 2,070 warnings.

Middlesex-London Paramedic Services also evaluated 82 people and took 31 to hospital with non-serious injuries.

In addition, there were 10 charges under the city’s new public nuisance bylaw, all on Broughdale Avenue.

“The importance of the operation was showing a strong presence early in the day so officers were able to focus on education, but as the crowd expanded, to ensure everyone’s safety, the focus shifted to crowd management,” said police Chief Steve Williams.

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Williams added that due to the number of people, there were more than 150 officers, who were forced to temporarily close Richmond Street.

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“While, overall, the crowds seemed less volatile this year, there were still many intoxicated people on roofs, jumping between roofs, clinging to trees and participating in other dangerous behaviours,” Williams said.

The $300,000 in extra police costs as a result of the annual Fake Homecoming bash near Western does not include the added cost to paramedics and the city, which officials say is still being added up.

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Although the number of injuries has gone down from last year, when there were 57 hospitalizations, officials don’t see an end coming anytime soon, with Mayor Ed Holder talking about the preparations for dealing with next year’s FoCo celebrations.

When asked if zero injuries was the new bar for success, Holder said: “It’s not, but there are certain measures you look at in terms of results. Is it better we had less incidents this year in terms of physical injury? Absolutely. Is it better we have had less changes? Absolutely. There is nothing wrong with using that a measurement.”

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He added the city would prefer not to have to deal with this at all, but right now, they are focusing on what they can control.

Western University’s student council estimated 13,000 students attended Purple Fest. The goal of the festival is to draw students away from unsanctioned street parties on Broughdale Avenue.

After learning the concert’s headliner, A$AP Rocky, was a no-show due to travel visa issues, emergency services said the crowds on Broughdale Avenue started to grow.

With Files from Global News Andrew Graham

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