Residents must do their part to report crime in their communities and not solely rely on police to combat offenders.
That was the message from a community meeting involving officers and tenants in the building near where a young man was shot to death in October.
The meeting at 30 Denarda St. Wednesday, Nov. 14, organized by York South-Weston Councillor Frances Nunziata, focused on crime, safety and the role of citizens assisting police in apprehending wrongdoers.
Sup. Mark Saunders of 12 Division, who was appointed deputy chief of Toronto Police earlier in the day, said crime was substantially down over the summer as more officers were assigned to troubled areas during the Summer Safety project.
“The message I want to get across is, we’re only one small piece of the puzzle, folks,” he said. “It’s not just us doing the enforcement. Ninety-nine per cent of residents are fantastic people. We need your co-operation to keep the community safe. This area has been generally good.”
Police have received information from the community regarding the Oct. 30 murder of Leonard Charles Fullerton, 26, who was shot dead outside the Denarda Street building following an argument with a man.
“We know people here witnessed it,” Saunders said, adding police believe the shooting was targeted. “There has been some co-operation, but we want more co-operation. We’re here to appeal for your co-operation, to make your community safe.”
Eugene Jones, CEO of Toronto Community Housing Corporation, acknowledged crime is a problem plaguing his developments and urged residents to report illegal activity.
“TPS (Toronto Police Service) can’t do it alone, TCHC can’t do it alone,” he said. “You’ve got to report the crime. You can’t say crime is an issue and then not report it. It takes all of us together to fix what’s wrong with the community. We need your participation. There are a few bad apples and those are the ones I want to get off the property.”
Several residents noted the lack of lighting on Denarda Street and the walkway between Denarda Street and Oxford Drive is supposed to be lit, but lights don’t always work. Residents were happy to learn the building is equipped with working cameras, including on the ground floor, garage, basement and laundry room.
But while that news was met with relief, Saunders cautioned residents not to rely on electronic devices for a false sense of security.
“You can put up all the cameras you want in the world,” he said. “You want safety, you have to step up to the plate. Don’t rely on cameras to solve all your problems.”
Youth need to be engaged in productive activities to help steer them away from a life of crime, officers said, noting the successful Youth in Policing Initiative (YIPI), a summer employment program for young people aged 14 to 17 in priority neighbourhoods.
However, only 150 spots are available each year for the hundreds of applications received, police said.
Lekan Olawoye, executive director of For Youth Initiative (FYI), where Fullerton was employed, said people need to focus on building community to have the safe neighbourhood they desire.
“If we work with the population, violence will decrease,” he said.
Nunziata said she’d like to bring all community agencies together so constituents are aware of services available.
The suspect in Fullerton’s murder fled east on Denarda Street before getting into a small, silver four-door car.
He is described as black with a light complexion, six feet tall with a thin build. He was wearing dark clothing.
Anyone with information is asked to call police at 416-808-1200, 416-808-7400 or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416-222-8477.