Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders has welcomed the provincial government announcement to add more closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras in the city.
At a news conference at Toronto Police College on August 23, Premier Doug Ford joined Mayor John Tory to announce funding for new cameras to help police respond to Toronto's upsurge in gun and gang violence.
The $3 million investment will increase the city’s CCTV system from 34 cameras to 74.
“We recognize that 99.9 per cent of the community is law-abiding people who are scared because of the gun activity that’s happening,” said Saunders. “We know that this small segment within the community, those invoking the most violent crimes involving firearms, belong to street gangs.”
He said locations for the cameras will be determined by intelligence.
“So when we use our specialized Gun and Gang Task Force in conjunction with our Neighbourhoood officers, our Community Response Units and our frontline people, collectively we are able to determine where the best locations are,” said Saunders. “Obviously as things change, the adaptability is going to play an important part in that and if there are any other technologies that can assist or be a complement to keeping the gun violence down, we will be looking at that.”
The new funding is in addition to the commitment made last week by the Government of Ontario to support the Service's recently announced Project Community Space. This 11-week initiative will put more police officers on the ground in surge areas to increase the safety of Toronto neighbourhoods where recent episodes of gun violence have occurred.
Ford said his government is taking the necessary steps to protect law-abiding citizens and keep violent criminals off our streets.
“The city has made urgent requests for capital operating resources to expand CCTV cameras and coverage which is a key tool in the fight against gun and gang violence,” he said. “This investment will give the Toronto Police Service the tools they need to fight gun and gang violence in Toronto and put violent criminals behind bars - where they belong.”
Tory said the critical investment will directly help Toronto Police combat gun and gang violence.
“This additional $3 million over three years investment in CCTV cameras for police will ensure our officers have new resources to help keep neighbourhoods safe and hold criminals responsible for inflicting violence in our city,” he said. “We have seen the value that video can bring, especially in light of the fact that we have people who are literally terrorizing neighbourhoods, often times when they don’t even live there.
“The video evidence of their presence in those neighbourhoods and the acts of violence they commit there are incredibly valuable to police in bringing those people to justice. Toronto is a great city, but we must do more to protect our streets and the very neighbourhoods that sometimes end up under siege. We need to deploy every available tool to fight guns and gangs and today’s investment will help our police officers who work so hard to combat violent crime.”
Ontario is investing $28 million over four years in the fight against guns and gangs in Toronto. In addition to this funding, the provincial government has also launched a province-wide strategy to curb gun crime and dismantle gangs.