Successes In Taking Guns and Gangs Off Toronto Streets
Since the launch of the Toronto Anti-Violence Intervention Strategy (TAVIS) as the Guns and Gangs Task Force's "on-the-ground" presence in high-priority neighbourhoods, TAVIS units have made a tangible difference in improving the safety of Torontonians. Toronto Police Service (TPS) officers have seized more than 1,200 guns since the launch of TAVIS in January 2006. They have also made more than 19,000 arrests and have built stronger partnerships by engaging in nearly half a million residents and business owners. Project Revival ― Downtown area In 2008, officers assigned to TAVIS played a key part in helping their 51 Division counterparts address the issues of drug trafficking and prostitution that had been particularly troubling for the residents of the Church/Seaton neighbourhood in downtown Toronto. Working with the community, police increased their uniformed and undercover operations that led to the arrests of nearly 100 people and the seizure of drugs and cash. Street level crimes such as drug trafficking and prostitution are often linked to gang activity. The six-week project resulted in safer streets in the neighbourhoods and contributed to stronger partnership between police and the community. Special TAVIS project ― Keele and Eglinton, Jane and Finch neighbourhoods In late 2009, the TPS ran a three-week special TAVIS project in two of the city's priority areas: the Jane/Finch and the Keele/Eglinton areas, which had experienced an increase of gun violence earlier that year. In the first four months of 2009, the neighbourhoods were the scene of 16 shootings and four homicides. Starting that summer, 75 officers assigned to TAVIS units concentrated their efforts in these two areas which brought about safer streets. After the TAVIS project, there was a single shooting and no homicide. In a three-week intensification of the TAVIS efforts in December 2009, Toronto police officers arrested 30 individuals, seized 240 firearms, including submachine guns and nearly $230,000 in drugs and cash. Project OB ― Toronto-wide In May 2011, officers of the TPS, assisted by other police services and law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and Canada, conducted a joint-forces operation to disrupt a large-scale gun trafficking network in the city. Project OB led to the dismantlement of a gang which was smuggling drugs into the U.S. and guns back into Canada and the Greater Toronto Area. The operation resulted in the arrest of 39 individuals, the seizure of five guns, body armour, drugs and cash The disruption of this guns-for-drugs trafficking operation has reduced the supply of illegal firearms in Toronto and contributed to the TAVIS goal of safer neighbourhoods across the city. Other examples of TAVIS results As part of their daily activities, officers assigned to TAVIS, pursue leads and follow up on information provided by community members. They patrol high-priority areas and intervene when they witness violent or suspicious behaviour. For example, in November 2010, officers on patrol as part of TAVIS' Rapid Response Team witnessed three men acting suspiciously near the entrance of an apartment complex in the Jane/Finch area. When approached by police, the men fled. After a brief pursuit, all three were arrested, all were carrying loaded handguns. Earlier in the same month, as a result of TAVIS-led community outreach, the TPS conducted two different search warrants and confiscated 25 handguns, 13 other firearms and more than 4,000 rounds of ammunition.