Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Toronto Police Free Up Resources to Fight Gun Violence

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Toronto Police Free Up Resources to Fight Gun Violence

Article excerpt

Toronto police rejig shifts to fight violence

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TORONTO - Toronto police are freeing up resources this summer in the hopes of being better able to respond to public violence in the wake of recent shootings that have stirred fears over gunplay in city streets.

The "summer safety initiative" announced Thursday will see officers take on compulsory overtime shifts for a period stretching from August to the first week of September.

That will free up to 329 more officers each day for dispatch to communities at risk of gangs and gun violence, police Chief Bill Blair said.

"We are asking all of our people to step up on this one," he said.

Officers will add an extra two hours to their usual shifts beginning with the end of the long weekend on Aug. 6 and running until Sept. 9, a period Blair said is traditionally a busy one for police.

Blair said the move will let police better patrol areas flagged as potential trouble zones.

He would not name the communities, but said they will be determined through police statistical analysis and intelligence gathering.

He said the policing strategy was crafted in "partnership" with communities with a history of high levels of violent crime.

"Our intent is not to overpolice our communities, our intent is to overprotect them," he said.

Rejigging the officers' schedules will draw an extra $2 million from the existing police budget, Blair estimated.

"If we can prevent even a single murder, even a single shooting, even a single violent occurrence (then) it's worth the investment."

The police force is currently undergoing a two-year hiring freeze and has 175 fewer officers since the year started, Blair noted.

An additional 456 officers will be freed up to patrol the city's downtown core during next weekend's Caribbean Carnival parade.

African-Canadian community leaders who were at the announcement called on people living in targeted areas not to turn their backs on the bumped-up police presence. …

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