Monday, April 14, 2008 - 5:00 PM
52 Division

Each Thursday, Friday and Saturday night, the Entertainment District draws thousands of young people and party-goers. The vast majority are law-abiding and peaceful.

As each evening progresses beyond last call, alcohol-enhanced anti-social behaviour, exacerbated by swelling crowds, takes place on the streets. Crimes against persons are prevalent at that time of night, increasing the risk of victimization.

A unique police challenge is facilitating the mass exodus of club patrons in a timely, safe and responsible fashion. The police look to public transit and the local taxi companies for help.

A troubling trend among some local taxi operators is escalating. Fare refusals, based on distance and monetary gain, are becoming more and more prevalent and a cause for public safety concerns.

Officers from 52 Division Major Crime Vice Section, whose mandate is to patrol the Entertainment District during these peak times, have witnessed this dangerous “selective fare” trend. Assaults and disorderly conduct between people trying to hail taxi cabs has become commonplace. Patrons often put themselves in harm’s way, while making desperate efforts to hail cabs from the middle of the street. Officers patrolling the Entertainment District have also sustained injuries as a direct result of this practice.

This practice of some local cab drivers, refusing fares that are too short or demanding an unreasonable amount of cash upfront to accommodate passengers, is alarming.

Abandoning these young people on the streets, and leaving them on the roadside, creates a unique public safety issue.

Plainclothes officers from 52 Division Major Crime Vice Section, and officers from City of Toronto Municipal Licensing and Standards, assisted by Toronto Police uniformed officers, embarked on a two-day operation on Friday, April 11, 2008 and Saturday, April 12, 2008.

The project was called “Take Me Home.”

The focus of the project was to stop, identify and charge problem cab drivers under the City of Toronto Municipal Code.

As a result of Project “Take Me Home,” 45 taxi cab inspections were conducted, resulting in 35 cab-related charges, including 21 for refusing the first fare.

The majority of the charges were laid between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m., the hour identified by police where most violent crimes against people take place.

Officers from 52 Division will continue to keep a close eye on any threat to public safety.