Hit-and-run victim criticizes police response time to 911 call
Chris Fox, CTV News Toronto
Published Wednesday, March 7, 2018 12:58PM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, March 7, 2018 6:40PM EST
A hit-and-run victim says that police took 50 minutes to show up after she called 911 to report the incident last month, something that the head of the police union calls the “unfortunate reality” faced by many residents who need help right now.
Alana Fekete tells CP24 that she was crossing the street at Yonge and Sheppard Avenue a few weeks back when she was hit by a vehicle that was turning left.
“I was standing on the northeast corner of Yonge Street and Greenfield with my fiancé and a friend. Just as the light turned green, we began to cross as the pedestrian crosswalk sign turned on,” she said
“The driver turning left struck me as I was about halfway between the sidewalk and the median.”
Fekete said the vehicle hit her in the leg and caused her to roll onto the hood of the vehicle.
Dashboard camera video taken from a vehicle in the area at the time appears to show Fekete’s fiancé trying to get the elderly driver to stop the vehicle but, as the vehicle took off, he was dragged several feet down the roadway.
Though Fekete did not require medical treatment, she said a bystander called 911 after the vehicle fled the scene.
Fekete said she called police four additional times before they showed up – 50 minutes after she was hit.
“It’s upsetting because if the driver had remained at the scene, everyone’s accounted for and everyone can take responsibility for what happened,” she said.
“Perhaps it’s not high on the priority list but this was a crime.”
Discussing the incident with CP24 on Wednesday, Toronto Police Association President Mike McCormack called it a “troubling” example of the cost of a reduction in front-line officers due to the ongoing modernization of the Toronto Police Service.
“Unfortunately this has become the norm in the city, the lack of staffing, the lack of resources,” he said. “We are in a crisis and this is something that has to be addressed.”
The TPA has said that there are 577 fewer officers than there were in 2010, though the TPS did end a three-year hiring freeze prematurely in August in order to bring in 80 new cadets.
Despite the recent hires, McCormack said that about 90 per cent of shifts remain understaffed and response times have been affected.
He said that about 90 officers have already left the force so far in 2018 and that TPS needs to replace those officers as well as the hundreds that have been lost through attrition over the last few years.
“It speaks to what is going on in policing in the city right now and we have approached the chief, the mayor and the chair of the TPS board and said ‘You need to fix this and you need to fix it now,’” he said of the 50-minute response time to the hit-and-run. “We are hearing about people who are victims of sexual domestic assault waiting hours for the police to respond.”
Speaking to CP24 last month, Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders pointed fingers at the TPA, saying the union’s actions are “totally inconsistent” with their apparent support of modernizing the force.
Saunders said that while he is working to ensure proper staffing numbers are available in the right places, he claimed the TPA has hampered his efforts.
“They are responsible for sitting at the table when it comes to shift scheduling and that is my big issue right now,” he said at the time. “I need to have more officers in the right place at the right time but as chief I don’t have that opportunity. That is between the board and the association.”
Police say that they are investigating Fekete’s account and are looking into why it took officers so long to respond.