Chief Mark Saunders thanked the men and women of the Toronto Police Service – both uniform and civilian – for stepping up to keep the city safe and going above and beyond the call of duty on a daily basis in his year-end remarks.
“We are up to this job – and we are very good at our jobs, and in my view, we have the best Service in Canada,” Saunders said, at a news conference on Dec. 20 at police headquarters.
The Chief said response times are steady, solve rates have increased, and Service members continue to adapt to the changing needs of the city.
The largest challenge of the year, responding to an increase in gun and gang activity in the city has refocused the Service on intelligence-led, community-centric policing and to work in partnership with community and government partners to address root causes.
In 2020, there will be the introduction of Body Worn Cameras – a new technology that will increase transparency to the public, as well as new shift schedules that will facilitate more proactive policing that will also improve the wellness of Service members.
Chief Saunders said the new budget allows the Service to hire 341 more officers in Priority Response, Traffic, and the Neighbourhood Community Officers Program as well as civilian members.
“We continue to build relationships with communities across the city through our Neighbourhood Community Officer program, as well as through the dedicated work of so many of our frontline officers in what amounts to approximately two million touchpoints a year,” Saunders said. “We work every day to earn – and to keep – the trust of the people of Toronto.”
Successes from 2019:
- Conviction on eight counts of First Degree Murder against Bruce McArthur
- Projects Moses, Dos, Oz, Sparta, Topside and Kraken targeted gun, gang and drug activity resulting in hundreds of arrests, thousands of charges, and the seizure of hundreds of guns, millions of dollars of drugs and proceeds of crime throughout the year
- Project Community Space, to address the increase in gang and gun violence in at-risk neighbourhoods, after 15 weeks the program resulted in 463 arrests, 1,145 charges, and 2,392 bail compliance checks
- Gun buyback program with the City of Toronto, resulting in the surrender of 3,100 firearms – including more than 2,300 handguns
- Release of findings of the Danforth mass shooting investigation in an effort to be transparent on an incident that changed our city forever
- New Vulnerable Persons Registry allowing the public to provide us with information about a person that could prove invaluable in a crisis situation or when someone goes missing
- Launched our Mental Health & Addictions Strategy outlining our commitment to preserving the health and safety of our members and of the community we serve
- Began an intensive Workplace Review of our culture and systems to ensure we achieve a work environment that is safe and inclusive for everyone.
- Now launching the Service’s historic Race-based Data Collection Program on January 1, exceeding legal requirements of legislation collecting data on use of force and level three searches
“All of these steps contribute to us delivering on the three goals of our multi-year modernization process of: being where the public needs us the most, creating community partnerships for safer neighbourhoods, and responding to the complex needs of a large urban city.”
He said Service members made contributions to the city each day ranging from making life-saving rescues, using technology to solve crimes, buying necessities for those in need, reuniting lost pets with their owners and facilitating the largest party the city has seen with the first NBA championship win.
“Throughout the year, our members continued to touch the communities we serve,” Saunders said.