Toronto police announced the results of their 15-week project to address gun violence Friday, the same day Prime Minster Justin Trudeau gave the federal Public Safety Minister a mandate to assist municipalities in further restricting or banning handguns.
At police headquarters, Superintendent Steve Watts provided the results of Project Community Space, which was launched this summer to address a spike in gun violence. Since then, police officers made 463 arrests including 97 people on firearms-related bail violations, of which 16 were charged with new gun-related offences as well other charges, Mr. Watts said.
Police officers also conducted 2,392 bail compliance checks over all in the city resulting in 46 arrests, while 36 are still wanted on outstanding warrants. Of 1,145 charges laid, nearly 20 per cent were for breach of bail conditions, 9 per cent were made on warrants, 28 per cent were firearms-related and 11 per cent were for other violent offences including robbery and sexual assault, he said.
“This initiative was intelligence-led and included the increase of monitoring of bail compliance and enhanced engagement with community programs,” Mr. Watts said.
As part of the project that boosted street-level police presence and enhanced community engagement efforts and bail compliance monitoring, specialized officers were redeployed in areas associated with street gangs and higher rates of gun violence including the northwestern sector of the city, Mr. Watts said.
The project received $4.5-million from all three levels of government. With funding investment came the ability to implement a strategy without negatively affecting regular front-line policing services, Mr. Watts said.
The summary came as Ottawa made a number of promises to tackle gun violence.
The federal government will ban all military-style rifles and implement an associated buyback program, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in his mandate letter to Minister of Public Safety Bill Blair.
Along with other promises to address gun smuggling and strengthen licence requirements, Mr. Blair will also work with provinces and territories to give municipalities the ability to restrict or ban handguns, the letter says.
As part of Project Community Space in Toronto, officers also worked with community organizations. Officers made 89 referrals of which 45 were to gang-exit programs, Mr. Watts said.
The integrated gun and gang force of Toronto Police also completed 17 of 31 planned gang-prevention town halls that are aimed to educate and support families who live in high-risk areas affected by street gangs, Mr. Watts said. The rest of the town halls will continue in the new year.
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