Proactive Project Achieves Results
Project Community Space, which was launched on August 15, deployed officers across the city to where they were needed most, under the centralized command of the Integrated Gun & Gang Task Force.
It was intelligence-led and included monitoring of bail compliance, enhanced engagement with community programs and an increased presence and visibility of officers in areas frequently associated with street gangs and gun violence.
At a news conference at police headquarters on December 13, Supt. Steve Watts of Organized Crime Enforcement, said the project was successful.
“Our specialized approach allowed officers to make hundreds of arrests and lay many charges,” he said.
Of the 463 arrests, 97 people were out on firearm-related bails. A total of 16 of those individuals were charged with new gun-related offences as well as other charges and the remaining charges included many for violent offences such as robbery, forcible confinement, assault and sexual assault.
“Furthermore, 28 per cent of these charges were firearm-related, an additional 20 per cent were related to fail to comply and breach of conditions,” said Watts. “In addition to the firearm-related offences, 11 per cent were for other violent offences.”
The project allowed officers to conduct 2,392 bail compliance checks in the city. The enforcement resulted in 46 arrests. A total of 36 offenders are wanted on warrants.
“Also very important are the 89 referrals to community agencies that our officers made, of which 45 were to a Gang Exit program,” Watts said. “We also made referrals to Youth Diversion and Focus tables programs.”
In the last few months, the Integrated Gun & Gang Task Force hosted 17 gang prevention town halls aimed at educating and supporting families who live in areas affected by street gang activity and whose children may be recruited by neighbourhood gangs.
The remaining town halls will be held later this month into the new year.
“Moving forward as a Service and with the support of our partners, we are developing a sustainable and more robust strategy to address gun violence with an approach that’s proactive, preventative and response-focused to keep our cities safe,” added Watts.
The enhanced approach will be funded by reallocating existing Service funds, which Chief Mark Saunders will announce details later.
The Service is implementing new shift schedules which will support an increase in proactive policing and enforcement, allowing the organization to respond more quickly to calls for service, and also increase community safety and engagement activities.
The Service’s proposed 2020 budget includes investments in hiring new officers for Priority Response which will also serve to make communities safer by allowing an increased presence of officers across the city.