Increased police presence in Waterloo as thousands attend St. Patrick's Day events

WATCH ABOVE: Police in Waterloo, Ont. planned to shut down Ezra Avenue to party-goers after last year's unsanctioned booze fest, but thousands of post-secondary students had a different idea. Kamil Karamali reports.

Waterloo Regional Police say there’s an increased presence of officers out in the community as thousands of post-secondary students and visitors have gathered for an unlicensed St. Patrick’s Day party in a residential area beside Wilfrid Laurier University.

During an update early Saturday afternoon, Insp. Mike Haffner told reporters police attended approximately 30 gatherings on Ezra Avenue as well as Marshall and Albert streets. He said multiple liquor licence-related charges have been laid and that officers have received calls of people jumping from homes.

“There are a number of occasions we have heard where there have been people jumping from balconies and people jumping from rooftops,” Haffner said.

“We’re concerned about their safety and obviously the consumption of alcohol and binge drinking.”

WATCH: St. Patrick’s Day festivities in Waterloo sees ‘significant’ increase in attendance, some charges laid: police

Police said in 2017, up to 15,000 people attended Ezra Avenue and the surrounding area and that it resulted “in safety concerns for all, including students, residents and emergency service workers.” Officers said they dealt with alcohol-related incidents all day.

READ MORE: Ontario university tries to tame unruly St. Patrick’s Day party

Based on preliminary information, Haffner said it appeared there is a bigger crowd this year.

“Right now, we believe from an early-on estimate that it is definitely higher at this time of day compared to last year,” he said, while conveying a message to those partaking in the festivities.

“Celebrate, have fun, but do it in a lawful manner.”

READ MORE: Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day responsibly, London police, student leaders urge

A spokesperson for Region of Waterloo Paramedic Services said during the update that between 12 and 2 p.m., paramedics were being called for alcohol-related issues every five to six minutes.

On Saturday morning and early afternoon, police tweeted several instances of charges being laid and alcohol seized. Officers noted many vehicles were coming from out of town.

“Three University of Guelph students on way to Waterloo are not having a great start to #SPD2018. Pulled over for speeding. Charges issued for: unlawfully in possession of liquor, no seatbelts, no licence permit/insurance. Alcohol seized,” officers tweeted after 11 a.m.

READ MORE: Extra St. Patrick’s Day patrols planned near McMaster University

Minutes later, police said a bus was pulled over.

“Our traffic officers stopping out-of-town bus for open alcohol headed to #SPD2018, including this one from Scarborough. #besmart #staysafe #berespectful,” another tweet read.

Police said Ezra Avenue is closed to vehicular traffic.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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