Helping Police And Prosecutors Get Criminals With Guns Off The Street
Premier Announces $51-Million Package That Includes Additional Resources For Police, More Officers On The Streets, More Prosecutors And Dedicated Major Crime Courts
Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty has announced a $51-million package of initiatives designed to help police and prosecutors get criminals with guns off the streets.
"We need to work together to be tough on gun crime and tough on the root causes of gun crime," Premier McGuinty said today. "We need to help the police and prosecutors get the criminals with guns off the street. And we need to work, in the long run, to prevent kids from becoming criminals in the first place."
"Victory over gun crime can only be achieved by all of us working together, on several fronts, over the long term. It's going to take time, and it's going to take all of us working as one."
The Premier, who has been working on this issue with the City of Toronto and police for several months, described the province's next steps. They include:
- An additional $5 million in immediate funding to support the Toronto Police Service's offensive against guns and gangs -- money that will allow police to set up three new teams of specially trained officers.
- Up to 151 new officers on the street in Toronto, in addition to the 99 new officers already hired here since 2003, as part of the province's plan to put 1,000 new officers on Ontario streets, which has been accelerated to enable police to hire the new officers and get them through the Ontario Police College by the end of 2006, one year ahead of schedule.
- The addition of 31 Crown prosecutors dedicated to prosecuting gun crimes, including 10 who will provide dedicated expert advice to the Toronto Police Service.
- Expanding the OPP's Provincial Weapons Enforcement Unit by 15 officers (for a total of 58) at a cost of $2.3 million.
- The addition of 12 new victim services staff to provide support to victims of gun crimes.
- The creation of dedicated major crime courts for trials involving large, complex cases with multiple defendants.
- More than $26 million in funding to create and operate a new, state-of-the-art Operations Centre for the Guns and Gangs Task Force -- which includes officers from the Toronto Police Service and the OPP -- so it has all the tools, resources and support it needs in one location.
"The streets and neighbourhoods of this city belong to the people of Toronto," said Chief Bill Blair of the Toronto Police Service. "The additional support announced today will help us carry out the complex investigations needed to fight gun violence and make our streets safer."
"Providing the OPP's Provincial Weapons Enforcement Unit with additional funding means we can strengthen our efforts to track down illegal guns," said OPP Commissioner Gwen Boniface. "We will continue to work closely with police services across the province -- including the Toronto Guns and Gangs Task Force -- to get illegal guns off our streets."
"On behalf of all Ontarians, I want to thank our police, and the people who work in our court system, for their tireless and courageous efforts," said Premier McGuinty. "What we're doing today is striving to give them more resources, so they can do even more."
"Ontarians deserve to feel safe and to be safe. That's why we're working to put 1,000 more police on the streets of our communities faster," said Community Safety and Correctional Services Minister Monte Kwinter. "This means more police officers patrolling our streets, more officers tackling the problem of guns and gangs and more officers helping to make our communities safer and stronger."
"We are working hard to bring gang members who commit gun crimes swiftly to justice, and to break the backs of the gangs to which they belong," said Attorney General Michael Bryant. "Our government is ensuring that the police and prosecutors have the resources they need."
The Premier stressed that the initiatives announced today are only part of the government's strategy to fight gun and gang violence in Ontario.
"We have taken several other steps already, including extra help for struggling students, learning to 18 and improved access to gyms and other school facilities for community groups," the Premier said. "But more needs to be done to give our young people positive alternatives to guns and gangs. And we will have more to say on prevention in the weeks and months to come."