Police connected with community members to ensure a policing initiative gets the help it needs from area residents to prevent crime this summer.
The Neighbourhood TAVIS Initiative (NTI) was kicked off in the downtown east area Thursday afternoon with a community barbeque hosted by the NTI officers of 51 Division at Moss Park.
In less than an hour, 300 hot dogs were scarfed down by area residents and passers-by, while the officers got a good chance to interact with community members who were able to voice their concerns.
Venis Lyn Middleton, a local resident, was especially glad to see the constables interacting with the homeless population. “The homeless are apprehensive of the police,” said Middleton, noting that being able to speak to the officers at a relaxed community event makes a positive impact on the homeless community.
Sergeant Mike Hayles echoed Middleton’s views, adding that the officers present were able to alleviate some fears of the homeless community by letting them know police were there to ensure their safety too. “We police for them, too, because we see them being victimized,” said Hayles.
Comprising 24 constables, four sergeants and a staff sergeant, working from 7 a.m. to 2 a.m., the NTI covers Wellesley St. to Queen St. E. and Church St. to Parliament St.
All of the officers involved in the NTI are from 51 Division. The NTI is a component of the Toronto Anti-Violence Intervention Strategy (TAVIS), an intensive, violence-reduction and community-mobilization strategy intended to reduce crime and increase safety in neighbourhoods.
For a community-oriented officer, this is an absolute dream. It gives you a blank canvas to create fantastic relationships with the community, which I can carry back with me to my regular duties.
As the officers wrapped up the barbeque, children from a nearby summer camp shouted a big “thank you” from the bleachers. Owen Mallatratt was one of them who, along with eating some hot dogs, was also able to bust a few moves thanks to Constable Raph Waugh, who DJ’d the event.
“We saw them come and everyone was excited,” said Mallatratt, “it was fun with the police”.
His mother, Lynne Mallatratt, was also glad to see the NTI officers in her neighbourhood over the past few weeks.
“I need them on my street,” she said, adding that she sees them on their bike patrols and it makes her feel a lot safer.
For the constables the NTI Program gives them the luxury of time.
“For a community-oriented officer, this is an absolute dream,” said Hayles. “It gives you a blank canvas to create fantastic relationships with the community, which I can carry back with me to my regular duties.”
The officers of 51 Division will be patrolling Cabbagetown, the Garden district, Corktown and the Church and Wellesley village until Sept. 8.