240 arrests made in first weeks of Toronto police's project combatting gun violence

Sep 30 2019, 9:07 am

Toronto police have made 240 arrests and laid 525 charges in the first six weeks of an 11-week safety initiative.

According to police, the Project Community Space started on August 15, and the mandate of the “intelligence-led” operational plan is to “increase the safety of those communities dealing with increased gun violence and street gang activity this past summer.”

The program includes monitoring bail compliance, enhanced engagement with communities, and increasing police presence and visibility in areas frequently associated with street gangs and gun violence.

“The members of the Toronto Police Service, under the direction of the Integrated Gun and Gang Task Force, have been extremely effective in implementing this operational plan and increasing the safety of Toronto communities,” said Chief Mark Saunders.

“Officers laid 525 charges in the first six weeks of the project with firearm-related offences accounting for 35% of the charges, and failure to comply or breach of conditions accounting for 17% of charges laid. Eleven percent of these charges were for violent offences including assault, robbery and sexual offences. A further 8% of arrests were for outstanding warrants.”

Police also said 12 individuals who were free on bail for firearm-related offences were re-arrested during the first few weeks of the program.

“At the midpoint of Project Community Space, there was a 30% decrease in shooting events compared to the six weeks prior to the start of the project,” said Chief Saunders.

The Toronto Police Service reports that the results support the project being intelligence-led, meaning that officers in key areas and able to get to scenes quickly. They added that time onsite processing complaints was 15% shorter.

“Being community-focused is a key element of the service’s modernization, and this enhancement has allowed our officers to be where communities need us most,” said Saunders. “The increased visibility of officers, in their patrol cars and on foot in areas where street gangs are prevalent has been effective as a deterrent.”

Toronto police officers led a bail enforcement surge and checked 876 individuals who are currently out on bail.

A police statement said that “communities have consistently informed our team members that they noticed an increased presence of officers in their neighbourhoods in the last six weeks and that they feel safer in their communities.”

The project is scheduled to end on October 31, 2019.