Police Chief says gun violence increase in Toronto is not 'catastrophic'
Joshua Freeman, CTV News Toronto
Published Wednesday, June 20, 2018 12:07PM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, June 20, 2018 1:09PM EDT
Chief Mark Saunders weighed in on the city’s recent spate of gun violence Wednesday and suggested that the situation is not out of line with a city of Toronto’s size.
“I certainly can’t explain the ‘why’ piece. There are a lot of moving parts to it,” Saunders told CP24 in an interview. “But when we talk about the numbers let’s take it in context – the fourth largest city in North America – 2.8 million people, close to 3 million people.
“When we look at the increase compared to last year, it works out to five more shooting events a year and it works out to one victim shot per month more than last year. So the conversation of it being catastrophic is just untrue.”
There have been 194 shootings so far in 2018, up more than 21 per cent from same period last year.
Despite the context he gave around the increase, Saunders acknowledged that any increase in gun violence is concerning.
"We do take shooting occurrences seriously and we’ll continue to do just that,” Saunders said. “Working with the community, working with specialized entities within the service as well as throughout the jurisdictions around us, we are able to combat a lot of the issues when it comes to the gunplay happening in the city and we’ll continue to do that.”
He said police are also working with non-police agencies to “help some of our young men that are making wrong decisions in their lives” so that they don’t turn to gangs and violence.
The city has been shaken by a number of high-profile shootings in recent weeks, including a daylight shooting at a Scarborough playground that injured two young girls. One person has been arrested in connection with that shooting and police have released suspect information for two others.
Speaking Wednesday, Saunders vowed that those responsible will be brought to justice.
“It’s very unfortunate that we have two young children that are victims and happening in a playground is a concern, but we have taken the necessary steps to put us where we are in the investigation and I can guarantee you we will be apprehending those people in the near future,” he said.
The chief also spoke about another high-profile incident that happened this week – the murder of a man who was allegedly shoved to his death at a Bloor-Yonge Station platform Monday.
The shocking murder has sparked renewed conversation about erecting barriers at TTC platforms.
While Saunders said those discussions are best left to transit officials, he said he believes the TTC remains a very safe transit network and added that he’d support any informed decision the TTC takes to make it safer.
“If they’re looking for ways to improve on that safety, then by all means I certainly do encourage anything that could reduce loss of life,” Saunders said.