Toronto police are partnering with a charitable organization in an effort to bring some of Canada’s most-wanted to justice.
Det. Sgt. Stacy Gallant says the Bolo — be on the lookout — program will concentrate on fugitives wanted for serious crimes.
Maxime Langlois of the Stephen Cretier Foundation says the first subjects of the Bolo program are two men wanted for murder and the hope is it will prompt members of the public to supply tips to police.
Langlois says the program is designed to complement police efforts by ensuring a wider audience sees most-wanted notices, and making it easier for people to share the information with their social networks.
Tommy Ngo is wanted for second-degree murder and, as part of the campaign to apprehend him, Langlois says people will be walking around Toronto wearing bright yellow T-shirts with his face on them and handing out flyers.
Langlois says in the case of Alexander Fountain, the program began on April 19 and is 100 per cent digital using Facebook and Twitter. Both men are believed to be in the Toronto area and police say they have already received some tips related to Fountain.
Gallant told reporters Tuesday that while some people trying to evade arrest leave the city or country, change their name or assume an identity, others “hide in plain sight.”
“Someone out there knows where they are and knows where they’re hiding,” Gallant said, noting the two fugitives selected for the Bolo pilot project have strong ties to Toronto or are believed to still be in the area.
“We’re reaching out to the communities that may know where they are, where they’re hiding, who they’re hiding with,” he said. “It’s not fair that these people can continue to live in our communities and not be held to account for their actions.”
Langlois said Bolo campaigns will only be launched with the authorization and co-operation of the police force involved.
“What we do then is take the information that’s already publicly available on a case, we repackage it, and then we boost it to unprecedented levels,” he said, adding that the pilot project with Toronto police is designed to test the system.
The difference in the methods for the two cases — online versus fieldwork — is to judge the effectiveness of the two approaches, Langlois said.
Ngo is wanted on a Canada-wide warrant in connection to the September 2015 fatal stabbing of 23-year-old Russell Sahadeo.
Russell had no criminal history and was an innocent victim who had the misfortune of finding himself in a park down the street from his home, at the wrong time, police said.
Fountain is wanted on a Canada-wide warrant for three counts of attempted murder and one count of first-degree murder.
Police said Samatar Omar Farah, 24, suffered fatal gunshot wounds and was pronounced dead at the scene in April 2017.
Samatar had no criminal history and police said the shooting was probably the result of an ongoing feud between residents of two housing complexes.
Gallant said police aren’t looking for evidence as the cases already are before the courts.
“All we need to know is where they are.”