Police union head calls for more 'proactive policing'
On a long weekend in which at least seven people were shot across the city, the president of the Toronto Police Association says it's absolutely critical to get the violence under control.
“This is very concerning, not only to us as a police service, a police association, but as somebody who lives in this city,” Mike McCormack told our sister station CP24 on Monday, the morning after a shooting injured four people - one seriously - in Kensington Market.
That act of violence came just 26 hours after a daylight shooting in the Entertainment District left two men, 21 and 28 years old, dead and one woman injured.
And those weren't the only incidents this long weekend. A third man was stabbed to death in the Danforth and Greenwood area on Saturday night.
McCormack says the answer is 'proactive policing' - something that's been put in place in New York City which he says is working extremely well there. That city is now experiencing its lowest homicide rate since 1951, after increasing its police service by 1,300 officers.
"We've been, again, pushing, that when you cut 800 police officers from a service like the service we have in Toronto, it's going to have an impact," McCormack added.
"We've been calling for action for over a year, and we need action. We need to stem this violence and we need to do it now."
Statement from Mayor John Tory on the recent wave of violence:
Tory says he'll be reaching out to all levels of government, as well as Police Chief Mark Saunders, in the coming days
"The unacceptable gun violence we've seen in the last few weeks has left me incredibly angry but resolved to work with the police to stamp it out.
As Mayor, the safety of our city is my top priority and one that I share with Chief Mark Saunders and the men and women of the Toronto Police Service.
That's why we're hiring 200 police officers this year, why I've always advocated for tougher gun control and tougher bail conditions for gun crime, and why we're modernizing the police service to ensure there are more officers patrolling the streets.
This morning, I spoke to Chief Saunders at length and he confirmed police are seized with this issue and working relentlessly to bring people to justice. I made it clear that I expect police will do everything possible to root out the thugs responsible for this violence and send a message that we will not tolerate this reckless disregard for life in our city. I again assured the Chief that the City will provide any resources he needs to help address this violence.
I will be reaching out to the provincial and federal governments - both Premier Doug Ford and Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale - to discuss how we can work together to ramp up our efforts to fight gang violence and gun crime. I know they are both as committed as I am to putting these gangsters in jail.
As I said at City Council last week, we need to toughen up bail guidelines for those caught committing gun crimes. Countless police officers - from constables to the Chief himself - have told me how frustrated they are by the fact someone they arrest for a gun crime can be back out on the street on bail quickly and ready to cause more mayhem. That is not right and that is something we can stop right now.
I understand there will be those in the coming days who think they have a magic wand to fix this situation. The answers are easy if we work together to deploy more police and support the police to actually get these thugs behind bars and keep them there.
I urge anyone with information about these recent shootings to work with police and Crime Stoppers to help solve these crimes."
Statement from Premier Doug Ford:
The new Premier has acknowledged that there needs to be more action in tackling the recent wave of violence.
"My heart goes out to the victims of the shootings in Toronto over the Canada Day long weekend. This has been a very difficult summer in our city, and thoughts and prayers just aren't going to cut it anymore. We need action.
Toronto is home to the greatest police officers. We need to make sure they have the resources to round up these criminals, build relationships in communities, and prevent these shootings. I am looking forward to meeting with representatives from the Toronto Police in the near future so we can get to work on a strategy to end this senseless violence."
Toronto has seen more than 200 shootings and 51 homicides - more than twice as many as this time last year - so far in 2018.
- With files from CP24