Those living in and around the Blake-Boultbee and Rivertowne neighbourhoods may have noticed an increased police presence in their communities in recent months.
It’s all part of a citywide initiative by the Toronto Police Service (TPS) called the Neighbourhood Safety Project, which aims to improve community safety and increase positive engagement between the police and the public.
The 15-week program, essentially a continuation of the TPS’ Summer Safety Project, kicked off Monday, Oct. 15 and wrapped up Sunday, Jan. 27.
Each police division was tasked with examining its needs and coming up with a tailor-made plan that best served the needs of its residents, said Const. Rob McDonald of 55 Division’s community response unit.
“Everybody is doing it a little differently,” he said, explaining in 55 Division, two teams each consisting of four constables and a sergeant were assigned to patrol the Blake-Boultbee and Rivertowne areas nightly with the aim of eradicating violent crime and its causes.
“Our crime management team thought this was the best way to address the neighbourhoods’ concerns. ...We’re getting really good feedback from the community and it’s working out well.”
McDonald said historically the Blake-Boultbee and Rivertowne neighbourhoods have had higher instances of violent crimes and police were eager to do their part to better the situation.
“We’re trying to meet the community’s needs the best way we can as a police service. Our goal is not just to chase the ‘bad guys’ but to make communities safer and connect with people,” he said.
“The majority of people in those areas are law-abiding citizens and we’re there to support them so they can have a safe environment. ...Crime affects the whole community. We’re strictly there to help make those communities safer.”
During the project, 55 Division police made several robbery and drug-related arrests in connection with the local neighbourhood safety program.
They’ve also apprehended and/or identified a number of individuals wanted by Immigration Canada for being in the country illegally.
Further, local police, in partnership with residents, is also in the process of setting up a safe and secure committee in the Blake-Boultbee area.
At the end of the 15-week campaign, each division will look at what worked, what didn’t and what the next steps should be to continue keeping communities across the city safer.
People are also invited to share their thoughts on the project by filling out an online survey at www.surveymonkey.com/s/NeighbourhoodSafetySurvey