Chief Saunders says police are prepared for potential Raptors celebration
Police Chief Mark Saunders says that he is aware of how big the celebration could be should the Raptors win an NBA title at home tonight and has worked to ensure that the necessary resources will be in place to respond to any situation that arises.
Saunders made the comment to CP24 outside Scotiabank Arena on Monday morning, where hundreds of fans were already lined up in the rain to get into Jurassic Park for tonight’s potentially historic game.
“We have the resources here for tonight’s event and we do have an understanding of how big this monster is going to be so the people that you are going to see aren’t necessarily all the people that we have,” he said. “It’s a sporting event but if we have to transition into a security event we will. We are looking forward to keeping it as a calm as possible and if people do misbehave or break the law they will be apprehended but we don’t want to go there because the focus should be on the Toronto Raptors.”
Thousands of fans have flooded the streets after Raptors wins throughout the NBA finals but the celebrations have mostly been kept under control.
So far the only arrests made in connection with Raptors celebrations relate to an incident last month, wherein several fans jumped on a police cruiser at Yonge-Dundas Square and at least one of them threatened an officer. Two men have been arrested in connection with that incident so far, though five others remain outstanding.
“This is just an amazing team and more importantly a great country and a great city and we have been partying and celebrating so fantastically for the most part,” Saunders said. “For 60 days (of playoff basketball) it has been fantastic so those seven (suspects)do not define the vast, vast majority of people who are here to have fun and to celebrate.”
Tory says Raptors have brought city together
The Raptors have a three games to one lead over the two-time champion Golden State Warriors and will be in a position to win their first ever title at home tonight.
If they do win, it will be Toronto’s first championship in one of the so-called big four sports leagues (NBA, NHL, MLB, NFL) since the 1993 World Series.
Speaking with CP24 the court at Scotiabank Arena on Monday morning, Mayor John Tory said this year’s playoff run has really “brought everybody together” all across Toronto.
“It is a big boost for the city and what is extraordinary is it affects everybody. I have been talking to people who have never watched a basketball game ever, they just didn’t watch it, and now everybody is watching, everybody is learning about the game and it just one of those things I think that has brought everybody together,” he said. “That is what you want in a community; to have things that bring people together and make them happy. There are enough stresses and strains in life that people like to find things that just make them happy and this certainly has done that and I think that will continue.”
Tory told CP24 that he plans to attend a watch party at The Hospital for Sick Children this evening before heading down to Scotiabank Arena for tip off at 9 p.m. He said that he plans to watch most of the game inside the arena but will head out to Jurassic Park for at least a quarter to meet some of the fans there.
As for a potential victory parade, Tory is keeping a tight lip for now.
“We have a file. We have had Stanley cup parades here – not for a while – we have had MLB world series parades, we have had TFC and Grey Cup parades so there is a file. What you do is get that file out when we win and have a look at it at that time,” he said. “I am sure that those who maintain that file and keep it their file drawer will have appropriate arrangements made to make sure that we can celebrate the success of our Raptors.”
Police say that they will have necessary resources in place
Tory said that there have been regular conference calls throughout the NBA finals with representatives from the city, the police, the TTC and Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment in order to ensure that everybody is kept safe.
For tonight’s pivotal game, city officials are urging anyone heading downtown to leave their vehicles at home and to consider taking public transit.
There will be additional TTC service tonight to transport people in and out of the downtown core for the game, including five more trains and 25 additional buses.
“As the playoff run has moved down the calendar more and more people are coming down to Jurassic Park and that means more and more congestion and more cars in the downtown core, so absolutely the TTC, GO Transit, those indeed are the most efficient and better ways to get down to the game tonight,” city spokesperson Brad Ross told CP24 on Monday morning. “You can get there safely and be able to leave safely as well. It will be much faster and a lot less headaches.”
The following road closures are in affect for tonight’s big game:
- Maple Leaf Square (Bremner Boulevard from Lake Shore Boulevard West to York Street) will be closed from 7 a.m. on Monday until 2 a.m. on Tuesday
- York Street (between Lake Shore Boulevard West and Front Street West) and Bremner Boulevard (between Lower Simcoe Street and York Street)will be closed beginning as early as 9 a.m. on Monday until 2 a.m. on Tuesday,
- Bremner Boulevard from Lower Simcoe Street to Rees Street will be closed beginning at 5 p.m. on Monday until 2 a.m. on Tuesday