Toronto is again facing a crisis over gun violence. There have been more than 200 shootings this year alone, leading to more than two dozen deaths. Now, the city is rolling out a strategy to deal with the issue.
It’s the latest effort by officials to try to reduce the gun violence that has included, among others, brazen daylight shootings on a busy downtown street and at a children’s playground, in which two kids were wounded.
The centerpiece of the plan, adding more police officers in high-risk areas, will roll out by the end of the week.
“This plan will include adding more front line resources on certain during the hours of 7 p.m. and 3 a.m., when most of the gun violence takes place across the city,” said Mark Saunders, the city’s police chief.
Saunders says the strategy will run for eight weeks to the end of the summer and will then be reassessed. Saunders added that the strategy will also focus on prevention and rehabilitation.
For his part, mayor John Tory says the city is committed to ending the gun violence and that means efforts to address the causes of gun crime.
‘I believe we must be doing all that we can to prevent someone from joining a gang and picking up a gun. We will flow money into communities where we know there are youth who need help and support from organizations already active in those neighborhoods,” Tory said.
Adding the new officers is expected to cost about $3 million with some of the money coming from the government of Ontario. New premier Doug Ford has committed to restore funding for anti guns and anti gang initiatves.
In Ottawa, prime minister Justin Trudeau has also provided assurances that federal money is available from programs.
Some critics however say more police officers is not the best solution, but that planning, intelligence gathering and working with communities could provide more meaningful results.