Toronto’s police chief says the first six weeks of a three-month program aimed at tackling gun violence shows that it’s helping to decrease the number of shootings in the city.
An 11-week plan, dubbed “Project Community Space,” received millions through funding provided by all three levels of government.
The project, which ends Oct. 31, aimed to boost police presence in crime-prone areas of the city, build better connections with community groups and proactively check up on those out on bail.
“At mid-point of Project Community Space, there was a 30 per cent decrease in shooting events compared to the six weeks prior to the start of the project,” Toronto Police Service Chief Mark Saunders said Monday at a news conference.
Saunders reiterated his belief Monday morning that bail is granted too easily in gun crime cases, and the freedom enjoyed by some of those accused is fueling a cycle of gun crime.
In the first six weeks the “intelligence-led” program, he said, managed to rearrest 12 people who were freed on bail for firearm-related offences.
“They faced a variety of new firearm and violence-related charges,” he said.
“[The charges included] possession of firearms, which had serial numbers tampered with, possession of prohibited and restricted firearms, and assault with a weapon.”
Since the program began in August, 876 people currently out on bail have been checked on.
Saunders said officers laid a total of 525 charges in the first six weeks of the project, and 35 per cent of the charges were firearm-related.
Failure to comply or breach of bail condition accounted for 17 per cent of the charges, 11 per cent of the charges were for violent offences and 8 per cent were for outstanding warrants.
As well, 38 referrals have been made to programs in the city, of which 17 were to a gang exit program.
“The members of the Toronto Police Service … have been extremely effective in implementing this operational plan and increasing the safety of Toronto communities,” Saunders said. “We will continue to do what we do.”
The program, which received $1.5 million in funding from all three levels of government, was developed after 17 people were shot and injured during the August holiday weekend in Toronto this year.