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Chief Saunders launches 11 week, city-wide, centralized team approach to street gang and gun violence

Broadcast time: 11:00
Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Corporate Communications

The Toronto Police Service is launching Project Community Space. The 11 week, intelligence-led operational plan aims to increase the safety of Toronto communities dealing with increased gun violence associated with street gang activity over the past month.

Chief Mark Saunders welcomed Mayor John Tory’s initiative to confirm $4.5 M in funding from three levels of government, including through the City of Toronto, Ontario’s Solicitor General Sylvia Jones and Minister of Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction Bill Blair.

“Project Community Space is about prevention. It will focus on street gangs and reducing violent crime, and firearm related offences. We have listened to community members who are experiencing an inability to live, work and enjoy their neighbourhoods this summer due to gun violence and safety concerns,” said Chief Saunders.

“I’ve seen first-hand that communities are suffering at the hands of street gangs and the trouble that comes along with their activity, much of which is taking place in residential neighbourhoods. Our plan will make it harder for that activity to continue,” he said.

Over the next 11 weeks, Project Community Space will include officers from across the city under the centralized command of the Integrated Gun and Gang Task Force. It will be intelligence-led and include but not be limited to monitoring of bail compliance, enhanced engagement with community programs, and an increased presence and visibility of officers in areas frequently associated with street gangs and gun violence.

Chief Saunders said, “Members of the Toronto Police Service are committed to the communities we serve. We are here to help. We have some of the best officers in the country working in Toronto and our job is to ensure public safety and keep the peace. Our plan is intelligence-led and strategic, and our officers are up to the job,”

He continued, “Both the frontline and specialized officers of the Service have been taking guns off the street and making apprehensions daily. This new operational plan will have them working together under the leadership of the Integrated Guns and Gang Task Force to increase safety in Toronto communities.”

Chief Saunders continued, “We will continue to work with our community and government partners, to listen, and be present in those communities who need us.”

Project Community Space will begin on August 15 and end on October 31, 2019.

Beginning this fall and separate from the new funding, the Integrated Gun and Gang Task Force will host 31 gang prevention town halls aimed at educating and supporting families who live in areas most affected by gang activity and whose children may be at risk of recruitment by gangs in their neighbourhoods. More information will be available in the coming weeks.

The news conference is available on Youtube.

Allison MacNeil Sparkes, Corporate Communications, for Office of the Chief