More Officers in Neighbourhoods
The Neighbourhood Community Officer (NCO) Program has been expanded by 52 officers assigned to 13 new neighbourhoods.
NCOs are assigned to neighbourhoods for four years to reduce crime and build trust between the community and police.
Chief James Ramer was joined by Mayor John Tory in announcing the expansion at a 31 Division open house event where the community was invited to tour the station and meet local officers.
“By redeploying our resources to accomplish this expansion, we are providing policing services that our residents want, while working to keep neighbourhoods across Toronto safe,” Chief Ramer said. “The NCOs are visible and accessible to the public, walking through their neighbourhoods, meeting residents and engaging in collaborative problem solving to deliver sustainable neighbourhood driven solutions.”
Mayor John Tory says the program was expanded, because, simply put, it works.
"The Neighbourhood Community Officer Program has proven to work and like any and all City services, when we have a program that works, that the community likes and wants, we listen and look to ensure that not only can it continue but that we can expand it as well,” the Mayor said. “These officers are working to make communities in Toronto safer and are helping us build public trust and confidence in the Service. Their goals as part of this program will be to reduce crime, build relationships, gain insights into community needs, and improve insights into local crime.”
Imam Imran Ally says the NCOs who serve the Downsview-Roding-CFB neighbourhood where his TARIC Islam Centre is located have built trust in police and helped connect families who needed help to community services.
“To see an officer at our Friday prayers, you can’t put that in words – the positive impact for the hundreds of worshippers at that moment is unique community building,” Imam Ally said.
He says he is filled with joy when young people reach out to officers on their own and both officers and kids know each other by their first names.
“I’m echoing what the community feels about this program and on behalf of the community thank you.”
Constable Niran Jeyanesan, who has served as a NCO in Downsview-Roding-CFB for a year says they often follow up on 9-1-1 calls to see how they can connect families to additional help, whether that be mental health, employment or addiction services.
“The public is expecting their police service to understand the community and any factors that could affect a person’s behaviour and act to solve the issue rather than just do enforcement of the law,” he said, noting they work with everyone from social service agencies to apartment management teams to help solve issues. “We’re now helping empower our community partners to do their work.”
The Service is adding Neighbourhood Community Officers in the following 13 neighbourhoods:
- Rockcliffe-Smythe (12 Division)
- South Parkdale (14)
- New Toronto (22)
- Elms-Old Rexdale (23)
- York University Heights (31)
- Englemount-Lawrence (32)
- Clanton Park (32)
- Dorset Park (41)
- Eglinton East (43)
- Golfdale-Cedarbrae-Woburn (43)
- Harbourfront-City Place (52)
- Taylor-Massey (55)
- Danforth (55)
The Service conducted comprehensive analyses, including of crime and demographics, to determine the neighbourhoods for expansion of the program.
Both Constables Tommy Maing and Melody Carroll have been on the job as NCOs for only a few days in one of the expanded neighbourhoods of York University Heights.
“It’s the stressors in life that people have to deal with that stretch them to their limit and that’s when a 9-1-1 call happens,” Maing said. “When we find out what people need to be successful, I believe we can prevent that 9-1-1 call from happening.”
They will tackle concerns from their community, whether it be a business owner whose had his business repeatedly vandalized to a family dealing with addictions issues.
Their goal is to build as many relationships in the community as possible from business owners to residents to the students of the sprawling York University campus.
As a former Iowa State Academic Advisor, Carroll felt called to the role.
“So far, it’s been very positive, people are excited to have a familiar face in their community. I’m already texting with the people I’ve met,” says Carroll. “It’s a life-changing experience because we have the time to connect to people and build trust with them.”
Over the past several years, the presence of NCOs in Toronto’s neighbourhoods has improved relationships and increased levels of trust between police and residents. There has also been an enhanced understanding of the policing needs within these communities.
Ongoing independent evaluation of the program found approximately 90 percent of residents said they feel safer having these officers within their neighbourhoods. It also found residents think NCOs are an important part of the community, seeing them as trustworthy, approachable and professional.
More information can be found on the Neighbourhood Community Officer Program webpage.