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Mayor Tory wants to 'more than double' security cameras in bid to stem gun violence

Last Updated Jul 19, 2018 at 7:18 pm EDT

Toronto’s police services board is calling for more security cameras and new audio technology to be installed in parts of the city to help curb gun violence.

The board approved a request by Mayor John Tory on Thursday to formally ask city council to fund the measures, which he says were discussed at a special meeting between senior city and police staff last week.

Toronto has seen a rise in gun violence this year that has led to increased calls for the city to take action.

The board is requesting to “more than double” the number of closed circuit police cameras in public places where gang activity and gun violence are known to take place, bringing the total number of police cameras to around 80.

It is also asking the city to adopt “ShotSpotter” technology, already in use in the U.S., that uses microphones to detect and locate gunfire, and automatically informs police.

“This (proposal) came from the police service and senior police officials at their initiative at a meeting called by the city to discuss what we could do to combat gun violence, and these are two pieces of technology that the police service says they could use,” Tory told the board, of which he is a member.

“I support it strongly. The police chief has certainly convinced me these two things can be useful.”

Implementing the measures will cost $4 million over two years, which will likely be covered by crime prevention funding from the federal and provincial governments, Tory said.

“The city (would put) the money to fund it with the expectation that hopefully the federal and provincial programs will cover all or some of that money,” he said.

Asking city council for their approval is an urgent matter, as its last meeting of 2018 takes place next week, Tory said.

Police Chief Mark Saunders will make a full presentation to the board in September, further explaining the security camera and ShotSpotter technologies, and what oversight police will implement for them, the board decided.

Saunders will also report back on how the Neighbourhood Officer program — which aims to build connections between police and community members — could be expanded.

The city has taken a number of steps recently to address the issue of gun violence.

On Wednesday, Tory said Toronto will be providing more social services and job opportunities to at-risk youth and last week the police chief announced that 200 frontline police officers would be added to the night shift over the summer in an effort to combat gun crime.

Police figures shows gun violence has killed 27 people and injured 82 so far in 2018, compared with 17 deaths and 80 injuries at this time last year.