Toronto police are launching a new initiative called the Bolo Program to help catch the city’s most wanted criminals.
Police say the pilot project’s aim is to make citizens more aware of outstanding suspects by using social media as well as poster and public awareness campaigns.
“We’re not searching for evidence. These are cases that are already before the courts,” Det. Sgt. Stacy Gallant told reporters during a press conference Tuesday morning.
“We’re trying to find these people to bring them into custody so that they can have their trial and their day in court.”
The initiative is being tested in partnership with the Stephan Crétier Foundation, whose founder is the CEO of GardaWorld Security.
Bolo, which is short for be on the lookout, is a term commonly used by police to designate an individual who is actively wanted.
According to the Bolo program website, the goal is to encourage citizens to report sightings and submit tips to help police make arrests.
VIDEO: Toronto Police announces new most wanted pilot program Bolo
“We are 100 per cent complimentary with what police services do. We do not interfere with police activities or investigations,” Stephan Crétier Foundation spokesperson Maxime Langlois said.
“We only launch amplification campaigns once we have the full authorization and cooperation from the police service. What we do then is to take the information already publicly available on a case, we repackage it, and then we boost it at unprecedented levels.”
Police say that although there are many unsolved crimes, they are specifically focusing on “most wanted” cases.
“Our hope is that the more attention we can garner on these individuals, somebody out there is going to know where he is or where they are and a simple phone call or email to Crime Stoppers can lead to that person’s capture,” Gallant said.
“It may not be only in Toronto. We may find that these people are somewhere else in the country or out of the country and the best way to find out is through social media right now to reach all over the world.”
VIDEO: Toronto Police Bolo program utilizes social media tools
So far, two videos have been released on social media targeting suspects wanted in two separate homicides and more are coming in the upcoming months.
Alexander Fountain, 24, is currently wanted on a Canada-wide warrant in connection with the shooting death of Samatar Farah outside his east-end home on April 15, 2017.
Tommy Ngo, 22, is wanted on a Canada-wide warrant for second-degree murder in the stabbing death of 23-year-old Russell Sahadeo at Noble Park in North York on Sept. 6, 2015.
Police say they hope the program will help jog people’s memories and lead them to solve specific criminal cases.
“The people we’ve selected for the Bolo Program currently are those that we believe are still within the GTA or still have strong ties to the GTA,” Gallant said.
“So we’re reaching out to the communities that may know where they are, where they are hiding, who they are hiding with, to point us in that direction. Hopefully by picking cases that have a strong connection still to Toronto, we’re going to reach the biggest portion of the community that we can through both the digital, social media and through handing out flyers in the community.”
Police said there are currently eight active warrants for murders still outstanding in Toronto between 2015 and 2018. Overall, there are 27 arrest warrants for people wanted for various murders dating back to 1983.