gun violence toronto

Toronto not sold on latest plan to curb gun violence

It's been a deadly summer in Toronto so far, with police data showing a 53 per cent increase in shooting deaths since 2017.

With 278 people shot this year to date — 26 of them fatally so — the city is well on pace for one of its deadliest years in history, and a recent spate of high-profile killings has intensified public concern to levels not seen since 2005's "summer of the gun."

In an effort to stop the violence (or at least put minds at ease a little bit), Toronto Mayor John Tory and Police Chief Mark Saunders announced in a press conference on Thursday morning that more than 200 police officers would be dispatched to "priority areas" around the city between 7 p.m. and 3 a.m. for the next eight weeks.

Officers on the new late night shift will be focusing specifically on areas in which police say they've seen gun and gang activity.

The move will cost about $3 million in overtime pay, according to Saunders, but it's only one part of a total $15 million plan to tackle gun violence — or "gang violence," as both Tory and Saunders often call it — in Toronto.

"We need a strategic deployment of resources that focuses on those individuals responsible for gun crime," said Saunders, later noting that there are "over 1,000" players associated with the city's gun problem.

Some critics, including members of the police union and veteran cops, are suggesting that Saunders and Tory are two of said players.

Toronto Police Association drama aside, the Mayor seems confident in what he calls the "gun violence reduction plan."

In addition to more police officers on the streets, the plan would see up to $12 million in federal and city funds invested into "existing community initiatives that are working to prevent gang violence and to help those individuals who are caught in gang violence."

A press release from the Toronto Police Service says that Tory has had conversations with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Canadian Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale to "make sure this funding is available and will flow quickly."

Whether or not this plan works, well, I guess we'll find out — but only if City Council approves all the details at a meeting later this month.

TPS says that full details of the plan, as well as requests made to other levels of government for help, will be revealed in the coming days.

"We will flow money into communities where we know there are young people who need help and support from organizations already working in their neighbourhoods," said Mayor Tory in today's press release.

"We all want to keep our city safe, support our communities and support our police service. The safety of this city is a collective effort and one that I know we are all committed to protecting."

Lead photo by

Jeremy Gilbert

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