GTA

More than 130 firearms seized during eight-week gun violence reduction plan: Saunders

Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders says an eight-week plan to reduce gun violence across the city led to the seizure of more than 100 firearms and the arrest of nearly 250 people.

“Over the eight weeks where we had more resources available at the key times, we were able to get some pretty good outcomes,” Saunders said. “We arrested over 247 people that were gun-related occurrences, 136 firearms were seized, and 19 were seized on top of that through judicial orders.”

There have been more than 300 shootings in Toronto so far this year, compared to a total of 285 in 2017. The city has already seen 79 homicides in 2018, 40 of which were fatal shootings.

Part of the gun violence reduction strategy, which launched on July 20th, was to deploy 200 additional front-line officers during overnight hours in areas around the city with the most gun violence.

While the additional resources are no longer available to the police service now that the eight-week plan has ended, Saunders said he has a strategy to continue to tackle ongoing gun violence in the city.

“Our next phase is to still finish off a couple of things that we have to do when it comes to gun violence. There are still some people out there that we are interested in right now as we speak and as we go forward we hope to have some successful outcomes with those as well,” he said.

“I do have some plans in play to keep things going so that we can address some of the stories that I still have some concerns with that are right across the city right now.”

He added that enforcement is not the only key piece of the puzzle when addressing gun violence.

“Five-year-old kids, they don’t say, ‘My future is I’m going to shoot somebody.’ That is not the case,” Saunders said.

“But when you take the journey that takes them to where they are, where they are shooting people, what can we do to add the proper funding, the resources, so that these kids can make better decisions ahead of the curve? And that really is what success should look like.”

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