For the past nine years, Toronto Police 52 and 14 Divisions have collaborated with the Chinatown Business Improvement Association (BIA) on a spring project to ensure police and community are partnering to prevent crime in the vibrant commercial district.
Project Blue Dog, focusing on crime prevention, local disorder issues related to theft from autos, shoplifting, panhandling, public intoxication, drugs and any related quality-of-life issues, was launched on April 9.
The 10-week program, that takes its name from traditional policing colours and the Chinese Year of the Dog, ends in early June.
Deputy Chief Peter Yuen stressed that this is a crime-prevention initiative.
“The reason we are here is not because this place is riddled with crime,” he said. “Working with our local community on projects like these is important. This is a critical aspect of how we build those connections and how we build our neighbourhoods. With the weather getting warmer, this is a place where tourists and people come to congregate and enjoy the food and the culture. We want to make sure this place is safe for everyone coming here.”
Staff Sergeant Matthew Moyer said the project has to do with building and fostering relationships.
“When you deal with the Chinese community, you may run into language barriers, you may run into challenges understanding culture and history,” he said. “But the key to be successful when dealing with the Chinese community, we have found at 52 Division, is all about relationships. It’s about building trust and it’s about initiating that conversation.”
Moyer said there has been an increase in frauds, theft from autos and vandalism in Chinatown.
“You are going to see high-visibility policing, you are going to see more of the yellow jackets up and down the laneways, the streets and roads and you are going to see more engagement,” he said. “…This project is not based on numbers. It is based on relationships.”
Tony Yu, Chair of the Chinatown Business Improvement Association, welcomes the police presence.
“We always expect that this will be a safe place to shop and live,” he said. “This is why it is important for us to support this project. We encourage business owners and residents to help each other, report suspicious activities to Toronto Police, and prevent crime in order to make this place safe.”