Toronto police are getting a $25-million cash infusion over the next four years from the province in their fight against gun and gang violence in the city.
Premier Doug Ford says the money allocated is above and beyond the $76-million which has already been promised to support the Toronto Police Service.
The government says $7.6-million of the funding will go to establishing a legal SWAT team in each provincial courthouse to focus exclusively on ensuring “violent gun criminals are denied bail and remain behind bars.”
There will also be a new team of dedicated bail compliance officers whose focus will be to ensure that those who are out on bail are not violating any of the terms of their release.
Cristina Howorun spoke to critics of the legal SWAT team plan, who say it does not go far enough to fix what they call Ontario’s “revolving door justice system.” Watch below.
The remaining $18-million will go towards funding dedicated technology and specialized tools for police officers in their fight against guns and gang violence.
“We are sending a clear message to the thugs, to the violent criminals who think they own our streets,” said Ford. “We are sending a message that we are coming for them, that we are giving our police the tools they need to hunt them down.”
Ford also called on both the federal government and city of Toronto to step up and match the funding announced on Thursday.
“We’re calling on them to step up and do their part,” Ford added. “The feds must do more and the city must step forward, starting with following through on their commitment to hire more police officers.”
In a statement, Mayor John Tory said he welcomed the premier’s announcement adding the city plans to match the provincial contribution for the remainder of 2018. Tory added that if he is re-elected as mayor, he would request that Council match funds at the first available opportunity following the municipal elections.
Ford said he would not support Tory’s call for a ban on handguns in the city.
“I wouldn’t support a ban on handguns,” said Ford, in defense of legal, responsible gun owners. “We have to refocus all our resources on going after the bad guys – not the good guys but the bad guys.”
Ford also ruled out bringing back the controversial practice of police street checks.
“There’s no TAVIS, there’s no carding,” Ford said, adding the police will determine how best to allocate the funds. “I can’t stress it enough, I’m from the old school. I love boots on the ground. I love having police in neighbourhoods. But again, that’s not up to the premier to decide, it’s up to the police chief to decide.”
Ford claimed during the press conference that Chicago has a handgun ban and it has done nothing to stem the violence.
Chicago has not had a ban on possessing firearms within city limits since a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 2010. In 2013, the Illinois General Assembly passed a concealed carry law allowing people to walk the streets of Chicago with a gun attached to their waist and another strapped to their ankle.
In 2016, homicides in Chicago sharply rose, mostly as a result of gun violence.
As for Ford’s claim that there were “72 or 76 shootings” last week in Chicago:
Police say at least 74 people were shot between 3 p.m. Friday and 6 a.m. Monday last weekend, including 41 people during a 7-hour period early Sunday morning