Guns And Gangs Operations Centre To Target Criminals
$26-Million, State-Of-The Art Facility Provides Police With New Tools
Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty today said his government is doing its part to make communities safer by funding a $26-million Operations Centre for the Guns and Gangs Task Force.
"Ontarians want safe streets for themselves and their families and that's why we came together last year to target guns and gangs," said Premier McGuinty. "It's working -- gun crimes are down -- and we're supporting the police as they target more criminals."
OPP Commissioner Julian Fantino and Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair met Premier McGuinty and his justice ministers to review the impact the new Operations Centre is already making in the fight against guns and gangs. The centre became operational in January and houses approximately 270 full-time, dedicated staff, including police and Crown prosecutors, victim and witness support workers and probation and parole officers. The centre is also equipped with the latest technology for forensic testing.
"This centre is providing organized justice -- highly coordinated investigations and prosecutions of gun and gang crimes," said Attorney General Michael Bryant. "By putting our experts under one roof, there will be faster transfer of information between justice partners, faster action to investigate, find, charge and prosecute criminals, and faster outreach to victims and witnesses involved in gun violence."
The new operations centre is part of an innovative, state-of-the-art approach to community safety," said Monte Kwinter, Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services. "We're bringing police and prosecutors together and giving them the tools they need to get criminals off our streets."
"The strides made in the past year targeting gang- and gun-related crime in our communities send a strong message to those who would threaten public safety in this way," said Fantino. "The integration of capacity and expert skills in the Provincial Operations Centre support law enforcement's efforts to curb violent criminal activity involving illegal firearms -- communities throughout Ontario will be safer because of it."
"The Guns and Gangs Operations Centre will play a valuable role in Toronto's anti-violence initiatives," said Chief Blair. "The provincial government has recognized the value of cooperation and information-sharing when it comes to fighting gun and gang violence. This centre will significantly enhance law enforcement's response to these challenges."
Last year, the government invested $51 million to help police and prosecutors get criminals with guns off the streets. In 2006, gun-related crimes were down 44 per cent over 2005. Toronto's police officers have recovered nearly 370 firearms and made over 6,600 arrests. Premier McGuinty said the progress was encouraging, but there is still more work to do.
"Community groups have made progress in creating crime prevention programs and our police have shown tremendous determination in protecting our homes and our streets," said Premier McGuinty. "Our government will continue supporting the police in getting criminals off the street, prosecuting the offenders, preventing crime and making our communities strong and safe."