Creating Awareness of Crime Prevention
Crime prevention can only be accomplished through collaboration among police, social service agencies and the community.
The Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police launched Crime Prevention Week at Toronto Police headquarters Monday, November 6 with the theme: Awareness, Engagement, Prevention.
“Toronto Police Service members have fully embraced a culture of risk intervention, and every day our members make referrals to our partner agencies. This collaborative approach is critical to the success of our crime prevention initiatives,” said Chief Myron Demkiw. “Crime Prevention Week is always a great opportunity for us to highlight and concentrate on our crime prevention initiatives and partnerships, partnerships that our members are committed to working on every single day.”
Both Chief Demkiw and vice-Chair of the Toronto Police Service Board Lisa Kostakis pointed to the FOCUS Toronto program as a great example of collaboration.
There are six tables across the city where over 150 different agencies help deliver focused, wrap-around, risk-mitigation approach to help the most vulnerable individuals and families who are at risk due to complex crises, potential harm, and/or victimization.
Co-led by the City of Toronto, the United Way Greater Toronto and the Toronto Police Service, the program allows agencies to collaborate on who is best positioned to serve the needs of a person.
“The model brings together a diverse ensemble of community agencies at a weekly situation table to provide an intentional, wrap-around approach to the most vulnerable individuals, families and places that are experiencing or exposed to heightened levels of risk factors,” Kostakis.
Executive Director of the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police, Jeff McGuire highlighted the unique opportunities the week can create for all levels of law enforcement province-wide.
“Crime Prevention Week in Ontario is an opportunity for our police professionals to get out into their communities and interact with the people they serve. We want to show Ontarians how police are working hard to address crime when it occurs and, more importantly, what they’re doing to make sure criminal activities are prevented.”
Solicitor General Michael Kerzner said the province has invested over $370 million through grant programs to enhance the safety and wellbeing of Ontarians including the Mobile Crisis Response Team, Victims Support Grant, and combatting auto theft.
“We must do our part to be vigilant to prevent crime and keep our communities safe,” Kerzner said.
This focus on collaboration and prevention is especially pertinent to Carly Kalish, Executive Director of Victim Services Toronto.
While their main focus is on supporting victims of crime, a shift to preventative measures can have a large impact.
“Prevention becomes crucial. We have partnerships with school boards across the city where we talk to young people about healthy relationships, boundaries, consent- the antidote to gender-based violence,” Kalish said.
Where TPS and VST partner, there is a marked reduction in intimate partner violence.