“Coming off Homecoming we recognize that we needed to assess what took place and recognize that this may be a trend, that we needed to respond,” said Guelph police chief Jeff DeRuyter.
Police and bylaw officers received several complaints during Homecoming on Sept. 23 from residents about vandalism, property damage, littering and noise complaints from parties.
Police resources were stretched due to a party on Chancellors Way that grew to over 5,000 people and an unrelated fatal crash at Edinburgh Road and Wellington Street.
DeRuyter said their approach will now be different and they will have officers dedicated to St. Patrick’s Day-related calls.
“We are going to staff as we have not staffed before with a significant turnout,” he said.
“We will be calling in a significant amount of additional officers to be able to respond specifically to St. Patrick’s Day events,” DeRuyter added. “We will ensure that we cover the various areas and have the appropriate level of officers in that area.”
Officials from the city and the University of Guelph have even gone door-to-door in known problem areas to speak with students about the repercussions they could face.
DeRuyter said there will be a focus on Chancellors Way to prevent another massive street party.
“We will be out there early and we will be enforcing right from the start of the day to prevent it from starting up,” he explains. “We do not want this to be a tradition that continues and grows.”
The City of Guelph also plans to staff more bylaw officers including an operator who will be taking calls instead of them going to a voicemail as usual.
Despite a major police presence, DeRuyter said he still wants revellers to have a good time.
“Generally we find people are respectful, they’re compliant, but they choose to disregard the laws that pertain to other days,” he said. “We expect our officers to be professional in their encounters with the public.”
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