Toronto police announced midday Thursday that they've identified a potential risk to the Greater Toronto Area — but they aren't saying what the risk is, where it's focused, or what they're looking for.
Police said that they had increased their presence throughout Toronto Thursday due to "an unconfirmed, uncorroborated piece of information."
Media outlets including CTV and the Toronto Sun reported that officers received a draft memo, stating that the force had received "credible information regarding a potential vehicle ramming attack in the area of the CN Tower."
Toronto police said in a tweet later on Thursday that the memo was a "draft operational plan never approved. Our officers were provided with most up to date/accurate info this morning, as was public."
Officers appeared to be concentrated in the tourist-heavy areas near the CN Tower, Ripley's Aquarium, and the Rogers Centre. Emergency task force officers were spotted circling the downtown core.
We are responding to an unconfirmed, uncorroborated piece of information relating to the GTA. As a result of this information, you will see an increased number of police officers throughout the city and, specifically, in the downtown core ^sm— Toronto Police (@TorontoPolice) July 12, 2018
Police in the York region also upped their presence due to the risk.
We would like our community to be aware of an increased police presence around York Region as a precaution after we received unconfirmed & uncorroborated information regarding the GTA. 1/2— York Regional Police (@YRP) July 12, 2018
At a press conference at Bobbie Rosenfeld Park, steps away from the CN Tower, acting Supt. Michael Barsky remained tight-lipped about the potential threat, although he stressed that the city is still safe.
Businesses in the area are all still open, he said, and the Foo Fighters concert at the Rogers Centre on Thursday night will go on as planned — although the venue will be heavily monitored by police.
"Absolutely, people can go up and enjoy the CN Tower, and every venue in this quarter," Barsky said. The increased police presence "is simply to ensure the public can enjoy" downtown, and "can come down to this area without any worry."
If we could provide more specifics, we would be forthwith with that. Acting Supt. Michael Barsky
At least one office building on Bremner Blvd., just past the park where police held their press conference, told its employees to leave for the day due to the safety risk.
The risk appears to be "ongoing," and police hope people will report any activity that appears suspicious.
"We'd like them to do their due diligence," Barsky said. "Without the eyes of the community, we won't succeed." But he refused to give any specifics about what constituted suspicious activity, and would not say if investigators were looking for any particular people or vehicles.
Barsky acknowledged the seemingly contradictory nature of the police statements, but did not stray from his message. "If we could provide more specifics, we would be forthwith with that," he said.
The vague nature of the message appeared to irritate several people at the press conference, as well as those following the news.
So according to the cops, there's nothing to worry about and people shouldn't change their behaviour in any way — but there's still need for heightened security throughout downtown Toronto and they can't tell us why https://t.co/3ACM41AtN2— I've been supporting France all along, actually (@iD4RO) July 12, 2018
Toronto Police: potentially dangerous situation in the GTA and downtown— Karishma (@K_Gelato) July 12, 2018
Also Toronto Police: GO HAVE FUN AT THE CN TOWER!!
Toronto police: "We have information that something may or may not happen, that is why we increased police presence downtown. No, we are not going to say what it is, but if something happens, we told you so. But hey, come to Rogers Centre and enjoy the Foo Fighters concert today"— bitter old lady (@ninaborges) July 12, 2018
Toronto police acting as sketchy as my bf when I ask him who he's texting— J E N (@jendeclinesyou) July 12, 2018
Barsky ended the press conference by saying that an increased police presence is not particularly unusual, and that there have been more uniformed officers in that area since the end of the basketball playoffs in the spring.
"Toronto is one of the safest cities in the world," he added.
Earlier from HuffPost Canada: