Proof that the Toronto Police Neighbourhood Community Officer Program is working is becoming increasingly evident.
The officers create community connections to prevent criminal activity and long-term solutions to solving crime and disorder issues.
Based on information from the public about drug activity in their community, police arrested five people as a part of a drug investigation in Regent Park.
It is alleged two loaded handguns and illicit drugs were recovered.
Supt. Peter Moreira said the program’s success is based on building and maintaining community trust.
“The officers embedded in the community have demonstrated they are a trustworthy source when it comes to both policing and non-policing matters,” said the 51 Division Unit Commander. “We are often called upon to be the conduit for their services and that has bred trust with the community and that trust regularly results in information that’s provided to our officers.
“That information was about anti-social behaviour happening in and around the Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment grounds in Regent Park and the community had told our officers that this group of people, who regularly attended and were drinking, gambling and engaging in other anti-social behaviour, made them feel unsafe.”
There were also allegations of drug dealing.
On July 17, police arrested and chargedKal Tekolla, George Legault and Dawit Solomon, all 23 years of Toronto, 20-year-old Rondell Solomon of Ajax and a 16-year-old boy of Toronto.
They face a combined 20 charges, including possession of fentanyl and unauthorized firearm possession.
The accused were scheduled to appear in court on July 18.
“They were trafficking narcotics at one of the dead-end streets, where the park starts,” said Moreira. “Obviously, with drugs come guns. We weren’t aware that the guns were there until we made the arrests. These are important actions that are driven by the community.”
Moreira said many community members approached officers after the arrests to express their gratitude.
“We were able to be surgical in our enforcement actions and not cast a wide net,” he added. “We maintained the confidence of the public and we protected the public and most importantly the public was able to continue to use in greater numbers public spaces in Regent Park. By the time our officers left after making the arrests, we estimate there were about 300 people using the park. You could imagine how busy that area was. When guns are present, people have very short fuses. If a gun was discharged there, the likelihood that there would have been innocent victims would have been very high. I think our officers’ actions saved lives and that comes directly from information the community provided us.”
The investigation is ongoing.
Anyone with information is asked to contact police at 416-808-5100, Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416-222-TIPS (8477), online at www.222tips.com, online on our Facebook Leave a Tip page, or text TOR and your message to CRIMES (274637). Download the free Crime Stoppers Mobile App on iTunes or Google Play.