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Police lay charges against organizers of large gathering

Durham police have charged organizers of a large gathering at a playground in Whitby earlier in the week in violation of provincial emergency health measures.

On April 27 around 4 p.m., police and bylaw officers attended a large gathering at Baycliffe Park (also known as Rocketship Park) in defiance of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMCPA) and Reopening Ontario Act (ROA).

DRPS say the officers managed the situation in accordance with proper police protocols, taking into account all circumstances and professional considerations, including the safety of a large number of young children who were present at the time.

DRPS Interim Police Chief Rodd Rollauer says the vast majority of citizens are respecting the current health restrictions intended to protect themselves and their neighbours.

“For those few who are not in compliance with the rules, our approach has been consistent – engage, educate and, if all else fails, enforce with charges under the current legislation,” he says.

He notes since the pandemic began, officers have engaged appropriately and effectively with thousands of Durham residents regarding various health measures.

“In all but a few cases, residents have complied without enforcement,” adds Rollauer. “At the same time, more than 60 offence notices have been issued to those few who have continued to behave in a manner that threatens the health of others in the community. Our officers will continue to respond appropriately to each situation as it occurs.”

DRPS laid charges against two individuals on April 29 in relation to the April 27 gathering and others that occurred on March 20 and April 17.

As a result, a 48-year-old Oshawa male and 49-year-old Whitby woman have both been charged with three counts of hosting or organizing a public event or gathering exceeding the permitted number, and two counts of individually failing to comply with an order made during a declared emergency.

Police say the investigation is ongoing and further charges are being considered.