“Project Safe Semester” in full effect in Waterloo, WRPS cracks down on Ezra street party

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Photo by Jackie Vang

As the Waterloo region has seen an increase in the transient student population in late August and early September, the Waterloo Regional Police saw an influx in student arrests, charges and ticketing.

Waterloo Regional Police Services, being aware of this causation, launched Project Safe Semester in the last week of August and will continue until Homecoming at the end of September.

“We take part in Project Safety Semester every year … It is a program to promote the safety and well-being of university and college students as they return to schools,” said Cherri Greeno, media relations coordinator at Waterloo Regional Police Services.

The program involves a door-knocker campaign which officers from the Waterloo Regional Police Services, the Waterloo Fire Department and officials from Wilfrid Laurier University, University of Waterloo and Conestoga College will be in the community interacting with students.

Although no charges were laid, and the crowd was allegedly peaceful, there is much representation in such an event of the relatively small area of Waterloo region that comparatively sees — and will continue to see — large gatherings of students with the intent to party.

“It’s a chance for us to talk to students [and] talk to them about the dangers of alcohol abuse [specifically],” Greeno added.

“This year we have an increased police presence in the areas simply to show our commitment to ensuring safety.”

During the first week of Project Safe Semester, in the last week of August, Waterloo Regional Police laid 115 charges on post-secondary students.

This represents a 69 per cent increase from the same time frame last year in 2017.

The second week of the program — the first week of September — and the same week in which Laurier held its Orientation Week festivities, Waterloo Regional Police laid 219 charges, a 162 per cent increase from the same week last year.

The first two weeks of the program saw a total of 335 student charges, most of which were Liquor License Act and Highway Traffic Act related charges.

In a related event, Waterloo Regional Police cleared nearly 600 students from Ezra Avenue, in close proximity to Wilfrid Laurier University, on the night of Monday, Sept. 3.

Although no charges were laid, and the crowd was allegedly peaceful, there is much representation in such an event of the relatively small area of Waterloo region that comparatively sees — and will continue to see — large gatherings of students with the intent to party.

As the weeks in September and the employment of Project Safe Semester progresses, so too will the release of numbers pertaining to student charges.

“[Waterloo Regional Police] is encouraging safe and respectful behaviour,” Greeno stated.

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