By Barry Ellsworth
Will add 200 police to evening patrols in a bid to silence the guns that have used in 212 so far this year, the city’s police chief and Mayor John Tory announced Thursday.
As of July 1, 27 have died by way of the gun, whereas at the same period in 2017, the figure was 16.
“We’ve been shocked and horrified by the gun violence that has been taking place in different parts of the city,” Tory said during a press conference at police headquarters. “It has taken young lives, it has traumatized families and has shaken neighborhoods.”
Police Chief Mark Saunders said the department has identified about 1,000 players associated with gun violence and the extra officers will be assigned to certain areas of the city between 7 p.m. and 3 a.m.
“This is not about turning communities upside down,” he said. “It’s about being a lot more strategic.”
The program, called the Gun Violence Reduction Plan and expected to cost CAN$3 million, will begin July 20 for eight weeks. At the end of that time the program will be evaluated.
Saunders and Tory said many of the shootings are gang related. Last month police in Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area laid more than 1,000 charges against members of the Five Point Generalz gang.
The city is tackling the gang problem by expanding youth programs at a cost of around CAN$15 million.
“We must be doing all that we can to prevent someone from joining a gang and picking up a gun,” Tory said. “We must be doing all that we can to provide for opportunities and hope and support.”
Still, Tory said earlier this month that Toronto, with a population of about 2.8 million, is “one of the safest cities in North America.”
In 2017, the Economist’s Safe Cities Index named Toronto the fourth safest city in the world, after examining 60 cities and taking into account 49 indicators including such data as health, infrastructure and personal security.
Tokyo was number one, followed by Singapore and Osaka.