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Toronto police use province’s $1-million to research anti-gang violence initiatives

Police keep a presence on Danzig St. in Scarborough, Ont., July 18, 2012, after the community was rocked by a shooting that killed two people.

Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail

Part of a provincial fund announced this summer after a spate of deadly shootings will be used to research and implement programs aimed at tackling drug, gun and gang crime among youth, Toronto police said.

The force laid out its plans Wednesday for $1 million from the youth action plan, a one-time $20-million investment made in response to the violence that shook the city earlier this year.

"It is unfortunate to remember why we are here today," said Community Safety Minister Madeleine Meilleur.

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"The youth action plan was our government's response to a deadly summer in Toronto."

A brazen daytime shooting in the crowded food court of Toronto's Eaton Centre that claimed two lives in June stirred fears of gangland violence and left politicians grappling for answers.

Weeks later, gunfire erupted at a packed block party in the city's east-end, killing two people and injuring more than 20 others. Police later blamed the shootout on a turf war between rival gangs.

"It's not enough to get tough on crime," Ms. Meilleur said Wednesday. "We also have to get tough on the root of crime."

The minister said each dollar invested in crime prevention saves $7 that would be spent on prosecution, incarceration and related costs down the line.

Toronto police Acting Deputy Chief Kimberly Greenwood said the money will help research crime prevention programs already in effect in other communities.

"We're going to be evaluating programs that are out there, that are evidence-based, so we can implement things that are tried and true," she said.

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So far, the force has examined programs in Glasgow, Scotland and Prince Albert, Sask., that aim to consolidate support services for youth.

"They bring all the services together to identify the risk prior to it becoming a larger issue," Ms. Greenwood said.

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