Notes From the Swansea Safety Meeting (September 22)

Swansea Safety Meeting

September 22nd, Swansea Town Hall, 7pm

Link to the Agenda

Councillor Sarah Doucette

Toronto Police Services 11 Division:

•           Superintendent Heinz Kuck

•           Inspector Chris Boddy

•           Detective Sergeant Craig Drennan

•           PC Rob Tajti

•         Sgt Tom Urbaniak

•           PC Joe Mallay

Toronto Community Housing:

•           John Kraljevic, Operating Unit Manager

•           Ken Tooby, Community Safety Advisor

•           Ahmed Ali, Community Housing Supervisor

•           Sara Mohammed, Community Revitalization Assistant

•           Stewart Chisholm, ReSet Manager, Revitalization & Renewal Communities

City of Toronto:

•           Sue Goodfellow, Manager Streets To Homes

•           Serena Officer, City of Toronto Community Crisis Response

Introductions and welcoming remarks                                               

·         Councillor Sarah Doucette and Supt Heinz Kuck

Councillor Doucette speaks about issues which have been brought to her attention regarding individuals panhandling on Bloor Street. To speak to this she introduced Sue Goodfellow, Acting Manager Shelter, Support and Housing for the City of Toronto. Sue outlined work done by her staff to assist these individuals, some of whom may be experiencing homelessness. More information can be found on this webpage.

Mobile Crisis Intervention Team (MCIT)                                                          

·         Insp Chris Boddy spoke about the MCIT and the work they do to assist individuals who are experiencing a mental health crisis. More information can be found on this presentation and at http://www.torontopolice.on.ca/community/mcit.php.

11 Division Community Response Unit (CRU)

·         Sgt Tom Urbaniak explained that CRU officers are a non-emergency response team who engage with the community. These officers get around the community on bicycles. In this role they are more interactive. They have been around Swansea Mews for many years connecting with the community.

At Swansea Mews their activities include:

Attending community events including their movie nights.

They visit homes of individuals who have a curfew.

Enforcing no trespass regulations.

Since the recent gun violence at the Mews they are getting more involved with the greater community, offering reassurance with their presence – however they cannot be there all the time.

·         Officer Joe Mallay is a CRU officer who is very involved with the kids at the Mews. He is involved with youth programing including a basketball programme which provides the children with snacks, a uniform, and an opportunity to interact with the police in a casual way and helps build rapport.

11 Division crime management update                                                 

·         PC Rob Tajti gave a presentation on the crime statistics for 11 Divison.

Violent crime patterns and police response (Swansea Mews)     

·         Detective Sergeant Craig Drennan gave a presentation on the recent gun violence this summer in the area of Swansea Mews.

July 11 - Gunfire exchanged between two cars on Coe Hill Ave.

August 12 - Dispute and shots fired at Lakeshore and Windermere.

August 28 - Shots fired at a birthday party at the Mews.

September 2 – A 15 year old boy seriously wounded with gunshot injury.

D/S Drennan informed the audience that these incidents were part of gang activity between a gang based in Parkdale and at the Mews. After these incidents the police escalated their plain clothes presence at the Mews and a lot of work was done at the station by other officers. As a result of on:

September 6 – A search warrant was carried out in the Mews which recovered a machine pistol and there were 2 arrests made.

September 14 – A search warrant was carried out and a hand gun was found in a house.

These recovered firearms gave the police more information. However, any tips from the public are always welcome.

Officers encourage people to use Crime Stoppers if they have information but do not wish to identify themselves. Anyone contacting Crime Stoppers will not be asked to testify and any personal information will not be divulged.

Residents were encouraged to report any crimes. Officers encouraged parents of youth to take a look at what they are doing, and ask questions about their activities.

Introduction of City of Toronto Community Crisis Response Program Representative and Community Partners

·         Scerena Officer, Community Development officer explains the role of her group. They work across Toronto providing support and resources to communities impacted by violent and traumatic incidents. More information can be found in this in this handout and this information package as well as at Community Crisis Response Program.

Q & A and comments

  • Can the community get more night time police patrols?

-Supt Kuck explains that with only 24 officers for each shift they have to look at the whole of the division and prioritize accordingly. Because of the incidents at Swansea there has been an increase in patrols, both plain clothes and uniformed. It has a higher profile now but they may have to remove them eventually. They are always around at night, however, the CRU are only on duty during the day. There are joint patrols between TPS and Toronto Community Housing officers (who are not armed).

  • Why are criminals allowed to remain in the Mews? What does TCH do to remove them?

-TCH has a zero tolerance policy and will evict residents convicted with a serious crime.

  • How many evictions from Swansea this year?

-John Kraljevic answered there have been none so far but they will be following up on these incidents.

  • How do the young people get the guns and money?

-family members should be vigilant and also check their possessions, sometimes it is possible to find out where the items come from.

  • What percentage of youth are confirmed to be part of gangs?

-No records of these numbers are kept.

·         Police are always gathering information. If local residents and neighbours of the Mews have any information or security cameras please share with the police.

·         A resident of the Mews says she is prepared to share information but is frustrated with the slow response time of the TCH Security officers. The illegal activities are often finished by the time they get there.

Residents of the Mews are encouraged to call TCH Security officers and this is useful as it keeps a record of activities. They can of course call the Police as well.

·         Resident thanks the police and reminds the audience it is important to police your own children.

  • What would the Mews community wish in the way of support from the surrounding community?

-Police answer that they want people to help by reporting crimes and engaging the youth early.

-Councillor Doucette answers that we are moving forward with ideas to help and if there is anyone in the audience who is interested in doing more to please contact her office.

-Scerena Officer encourages everyone to get to know their neighbours, share with your neighbours, be engaged, take on a local leadership role.

  • A resident asks about installing cameras on local neighbouring buildings.

The Police encourage everyone to install their own as video footage can be vital in solving a crime.

Ken Tooby of TCH says that the Mews does have cameras. However they are looking at improving lighting and installing new cameras, this has now become a priority for this year or early 2017.

  •  Resident is pleased with the work of the Police to this point but wants to know why the issues continue. It used to be loud music and garbage thrown over the fence and now shootings, why now?

-Better cameras and motion sensor lights may help deter individuals.

-This gang activity is not a new phenomenon, there have been issues for a while, but there are now rival gangs contesting the area and the Mews is caught between 2 rival groups.

-The police and groups active in the Mews providing programs (Bold x Centred, 4 Villages) are attempting to break the pattern and undercut the next generation of youth.

  • How can we support those who do step forward to speak out?

-A resident who is a lawyer offered to provide pro-bono legal help to them.

-There are counselors and victim services help and in the extreme cases witness protection.

  • What is the ReSet Program?

Councillor Doucette explains it is approximately $20m set aside by TCH for improvements in the Mews. There have been several meetings and a great deal of engagement from the Mew residents in the process. The will look at new boilers, windows, doors, roofs and improvements to the surrounding property so residents can take pride in their homes.

·         Bold x Centred representative spoke out about how the residents in the Mews are concerned about their own safety. They mention that there used to be no relationship between the kids and the police until Officer Joe got involved. The parents in the Mews are tired of programming starting and then stopping.

·         Mews resident said that the youth really want a basketball court but neighbours were concerned about the noise it would make. They said that there is a new Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Market Friday's from 3-7pm which has started this year.