Newspaper article The Canadian Press

More Funding for Toronto Police Anti-Gang Initiative Coming

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

More Funding for Toronto Police Anti-Gang Initiative Coming

Article excerpt

More funding for Toronto anti-gang initiative

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TORONTO - Provincial funding for a police anti-violence initiative was made permanent Monday, as the city grappled with a series of recent public shootings that have left multiple people dead.

Premier Dalton McGuinty announced that Ontario will earmark $12.5 million for several initiatives aimed at preventing more violence, with the money coming from existing sources in the provincial budget.

"I think it's a step in the right direction," he said following an hour-long, closed-door meeting with Toronto Mayor Rob Ford and Police Chief Bill Blair at the Ontario legislature.

The majority of the funding -- $7.5 million -- will go toward the Provincial Anti-Violence Intervention Strategy. The remaining $5 million will be allocated to the program in Toronto, which has led to nearly 22,000 arrests since its creation in 2006.

The two employ a total of 72 uniformed officers specially trained to prevent and quickly respond to high-risk police calls, including gang-related incidents.

The funding will ensure that the programs will continue into the future, said McGuinty.

He admitted the government was considering putting the money up on the chopping block when it was set to expire this year, because of the $15-billion provincial deficit.

In addition, the premier also announced that $1 million in funding, which had been set aside earlier, will go toward better integration between Toronto-area police forces and the provincial police. The funds will also be used to provide additional supports to local community groups.

"It's a very complicated problem and there's no one, magic solution," he said. "Any effective response will consist of a variety of different initiatives."

McGuinty has also asked two provincial ministers to come up with an action plan within 30 days on what needs to be done to deal with the guns and gangs issue in the city.

"The fact is all of us -- government, police and community organizations -- have been working hard and we've made a difference," he said. "(But) it has become tragically apparent that there is still work for all of us to do. …

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