Following a harrowing month of increased gang activity and shooting incidents echoing throughout the city, Toronto’s police chief Mark Saunders and the Toronto Police Service have unveiled the force’s plan to battle gun violence over the next three months.
Dubbed “Project Community Space,” the police’s operational gun violence plan will run 11-weeks. According to a release, it “aims to increase the safety of Toronto communities dealing with increased gun violence associated with street gang activity over the past month.”
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The project will start on August 15 and end on October 31. It will see officers around the city come under the wing of the police’s integrated gun and gang task force, who will lead the operation.
Together, they will do things like monitor bail compliance, enhance engagement with community programs, and increase police presence and visibility in areas frequented by street gangs and prone to gun violence.
The announcement comes just a couple of days after all three levels of government collectively allotted $4.5 million to help Toronto police tackle the city’s gun problem, and a day after Prime Minister Trudeau met with Mayor John Tory at city hall to talk about the issue.
Shooting incidents have occurred more often than usual over the last month in Toronto, including 14 separate incidents on August long weekend that left 17 people shot.
The objective of Project Community Space, Chief Mark Saunders said in a statement, is prevention, with a focus on street gangs and the reduction of violent crime and firearm-related offences.
“We have listened to community members who are experiencing an inability to live, work, and enjoy their neighbourhoods this summer due to gun violence and safety concerns,” he added.
“I’ve seen first-hand that communities are suffering at the hands of street gangs and the trouble that comes along with their activity, much of which is taking place in residential neighbourhoods. Our plan will make it harder for that activity to continue.”
Toronto police will also be hosting 31 gang prevention town halls to educate and support families who live in areas associated with gun violence and gang activity, and who have children who may be recruited to these gangs, according to the release.
These meetings will be separate from the $4.5 million funding received.