As a young lad working in Regent Park with challenged youths, Scott McKean admits that he didn’t see the value of community stakeholders, service providers and the police working together to sustain community safety.
“I wasn’t always a believer in this," McKean – now a City of Toronto manager – pointed out in the keynote address at the Toronto Police Service Crime Prevention Week launch on November 3 at the Rexdale Community Hub. “To be totally transparent, I didn’t have the respect for the police that I do now.
“When I was working in 51 Division with youths, some of whom were involved in troubling situations, I encountered leadership that included Chief Bill Blair. We were able to have conversations that we weren’t traditionally able to have and we were able to bring young people together with local officers and 51 Division leadership to have some conversations about the perceptions of each other and the needs of each other. That was a monumental moment for me to shift my thinking that, in the public service, young people can have access to the local police and we can broker conversations”
This year’s Crime Prevention Week theme is, “Together, we can make a difference in community safety and Well-Being.”
Chief Bill Blair noted that Rexdale –in 23 Division -- was an appropriate community for the kick-off.
“I don’t think there is a better example anywhere in the City of Toronto and in Canada than Rexdale for a community that has come together and works together to keep the community safe and inclusive for everyone,” he said.
Blair reiterated that crime prevention is a shared responsibility in which the community plays a pivotal role.
“Quite often, when people think of crime prevention, they think of the activities of the police,” he said. “I think it’s a mistake to limit our thinking to the activities of the police. We must think about a community, and Rexdale is such a community, where people have come together and where they take care of each other and look out for each other. This is a community that’s inclusive and one where people are treated with respect and care about our young people.”
Toronto Police Services Board chair Dr. Alok Mukherjee said Crime Prevention Week is a time for people to come together and engage in crime prevention activities.
“Together, we can develop action-based strategies and meaningful initiatives that are powerful, multi-faceted and responsive to the changing times,” he said
Mukherjee added that strong community support is essential for the sustainability of crime prevention.
“Crime prevention, community safety and well-being are shared responsibilities,” he pointed out. “I am proud of the collaborative approach we have developed in Toronto, through which the police and the community are engaged with each other to ensure that our neighbourhoods and communities are safe, healthy and nurturing environments for all Torontonians. This approach has made us a leader worldwide.
“With proper tools, and in partnership with police, community members are best positioned to make a significant impact to create change and to harness the power that exists in every one of our neighbourhoods….Everyone plays an important role in community safety and well-being and it is through these joint efforts that we are able to create safer and stronger communities in our great city of Toronto.”
Several senior officers attended, including Deputy Chief Peter Sloly, Staff Superintendent Mario Di Tommaso, Superintendents Ron Taverner of 23 Division and Chris Fernandes of the Divisional Policing Community Support Unit ,which played a key role in organising the event, Inspector David Saunders, who was the Master of Ceremony, and Chaplain Walter Kelly who delivered the benediction attended the event.
Students from Highfield Junior School sang the national anthem.