Policing and managing 'FOCO' pricey, and costs fall to taxpayers
City officials are have now resigned themselves to the unpleasant reality that the costly thorn in their side nicknamed 'FOCO' for fake homecoming - is not going away any time soon.
That lament came Monday as the city’s Unsanctioned Street Party Task Force assembled media to reveal the numbers associated with the single-day street party just outside the Western University Campus on Saturday.
Officials call it positive news that there were no criminal charges and no series injuries.
How the numbers played out:
- At its peak there were about 25,000 party-goers.
- There were 14 arrests made for provincial offences and 62 tickets handed out, along with 2,070 warnings.
- Bylaw enforcement officers issued 10 public nuisance infractions, along with one for public littering.
- Middlesex London EMS treated 60 people on Broughdale Avenue, 22 of whom were taken to hospital. There were 22 additional calls on surrounding streets and on the Western campus itself, resulting in nine additional patients taken to hospital.
- The London Fire Department laid two charges under the Ontario Fire Code, while 592 warnings were issued related to overcrowding.
- London police responded to 809 emergency 911 calls on Saturday alone, twice as many as a typical day in the City of London.
Police Chief Steve Williams admits there is still much work to do.
“Obviously we have not solved this issue. Students from not only Western but other post-secondary schools still attended in massive numbers. There were still many youth under the age of 19 years drinking.”
London police brought in reinforcements for crowd control from the York Region and Hamilton Police forces, putting 150 officers on crowd control.
The total cost of more than $300,000 to handle the crowds comes out of the police operating budget.
City Councillor Phil Squire says it’s the costs associated with FOCO have become a new normal for taxpayers.
“That’s the exact problem with that is that now we’re looking at a permanent budget, almost allocation for this event. You’re talking about $300,000 allocated out of the police budget for this event. That’s a huge issue.”