Police services across the Greater Toronto Area stepped up security around mosques Friday in the wake of the deadly shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand.
Caroline de Kloet, a media relations officer with the Toronto Police Service, said the force will “make the appropriate adjustments to our plans in order to mitigate the potential risks to public safety.”
She said the public can expect to see more uniformed police in parts of the city.
“In response to the attacks in New Zealand, we will have a heightened police presence in the community, focusing on places of worship — especially mosques,” de Kloet said in an email to CBC Toronto. “We have done this to ensure the city is as safe and secure as possible.”
Peel Regional Police Const. Akhil Mooken said the shooting at two mosques that killed 49 worshippers has raised safety concerns among the local Muslim community.
“[Peel Region’s Interim Police Chief] Chris McCord has been in contact with leaders of our local Muslim community and I’ve assured them that we remain committed to their safety, as well as to the safety of everyone in the community,” said Mooken.
“Our vigilance has been raised to an extra level. And our officers will continue to maintain a presence around all places of worship to ensure the safety of all those in attendance.”
Mooken said the public can expect to see continuous patrols around various parts of Peel. Police community mobilization teams and community support officers are in regular contact with the various leaders of all the different religions, he said.
Const. Andy Pattenden from York Regional Police said people can also expect to see an increase in uniform patrols around places of worship across the region.
In Durham Region, Const. George Tudos also reported heightened security around mosques in the area.
“We are sending our condolences and within Durham Region we have increased our patrols and our visibility around any mosques that we have within our cities and towns,” Tudos said, adding that police have contacted local Muslim community leaders.
“We also ask anyone in the communities to report any suspicious activities.”
Toronto vigil planned
Meanwhile, Toronto residents can pay their respects to the New Zealand victims at a vigil planned tonight at Nathan Phillips Square beginning at 6 p.m.
“I am deeply saddened by the terror attack in New Zealand & stand with our Muslim community to condemn this hate-fuelled violence,” Toronto Mayor John Tory tweeted Friday morning.
“On behalf of all Torontonians, we send condolences to the families & friends of those killed in Christchurch & those injured in this heinous attack.”
The Toronto sign outside city hall was dimmed Friday to mourn the New Zealand victims.