WRPS COVID Response Team handled 465 incidents since late April, doled out 125 charges

A specialized team launched by Waterloo regional police to handle COVID-19 compliance amid the third wave dealt with 465 occurrences since late April.

Chief Bryan Larkin says the COVID Integrated Response Team (CIRT) was formed in response to both pandemic fatigue and a changing social climate surrounding adherence to COVID-19 safety guidelines.

CIRT launched in late April and operated through mid-June with the mandate of working cooperatively with regional enforcement to respond to complaints and violations under the Reopening Ontario Act and the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act.

Speaking at a police services board meeting, Larkin said the team handed 465 occurrences and laid 125 charges related to pandemic restriction violations.

On any given day, the team conducted between 10 and 12 proactive inspections at places like malls, retail spaces and outdoor gathering spaces.

The team racked up $13,000 in overtime costs for the 21 CIRT officers, but the expense came from the existing overtime budget, Larkin said.

Most of the overtime was attributed to anti-lockdown rallies and gathering enforcement.

ROAD SAFETY UPDATE

Officials provided a road safety update at Wednesday's police service board meeting.

Year-to-date, there have been six fatal collision in the region, resulting in seven deaths.

In June, officers laid 64 impaired driving charges.

In July, the Moving Ontarians More Safely Act came into effect across the province to crack down on street racing, stunt driving and aggressive and unsafe driving.

Waterloo regional police have laid six charges under the new act, known as the MOMS Act.

More than 3,600 speeding charges and 76 stunt driving charges have been laid since April.

MODIFIED VEHICLE CHARGES

Since April, 20 charges have been laid under the Environmental Protection Act related to emissions controls, including:

  • 55 improper muffler charges
  • 72 no muffler charges
  • 53 unnecessary noise charges
  • 33 improper tire charges
  • 10 defective brakes

“In a world where we’re dealing with climate change and a number of significant pieces, we see that vehicles are modified," Larkin said at the board meeting.