Chief Mark Saunders took time to listen to the community alongside 53 Division officers who delivered safety messages.
He took part in the midtown Division’s townhall Sept. 9 to talk to community members.
“We also need to listen, that is one of the most important attributes of good and successful policing today. So it is why we have these town halls, they give us an opportunity to listen to our community,” Saunders said. “If we make assumptions about what you think is valuable we may get it wrong. In order for us to be successful we need you to offer us what you find valuable.”
In addition to interacting with officers, 53 Division decided to add two information sessions on cyber security and one on human trafficking.
Chief Saunders also attended the meeting and was happy to see information sessions included.
“I am really happy… for a change we have an opportunity to educate. Educating the public is such a key component,” said the Chief.
Superintendent Scott Gilbert, of 53 Division said that one in five people in his Division were over the age of 60, underlining the need for a cybercrime information session.
“We are experiencing a rise in computer-related crime. As a result it is important for us to help the public to be able to better protect themselves… which prevents crime in the future and prevents them from becoming victims,” said Gilbert.
Local business owner Anjan Manikumar, who runs the Signs restaurant which employs hearing impaired servers, came to the event looking to find about how people with disabilities can access the police including having the ability to text 9-1-1. (The Toronto Police Service does offer a service to text 9-1-1).
He was taken aback by the human trafficking session but said the information was important to the community.
“I was shocked by what I heard, but I was also happy to hear it because it’s something I learned about and…maybe help keep the community safe,” Manikumar said.
CRU Staff Sergeant Matt Moyer, who helped organize the event, said it was nice to see the community take out the time from their schedules to come to the event and hear about issues important to the Service and community.
“It shows that when I speak to them and ask for their support, they provide it,” said Moyer, who tries to make it out to as many community events as he can and was happy to see people do the same for the Service.
Saunders also reminded those in attendance that the most important source of information for police is the community.
“Over my career I have found that the public is afraid to come forward because they think that the piece of information they have seen is insignificant. You are the eyes and ears of our community; if we can plug into such people… we can prevent so much crime in our communities.
“For some reason people feel they don’t need to call police unless a crime has been committed, they feel that they are wasting our time… I can tell you that is far from true, the preventive part of policing is as we gather more information we begin to put in preventive pieces in place. And you know the patterns and things that go on in your community better than any police officer. And when things are out of synch from those patterns that you see on a daily basis, as innocuous as it may seem, you need to call us,” said the Chief.