Police chief says Brantford needs support from Ontario in light of ‘unprecedented’ violence

Brantford Police Chief Geoff Nelson is asking the province of Ontario for aid in the city's fight against increased gun crime. Lisa Polewski / Global News

Brantford’s Chief of Police says the city’s law enforcement agency has asked the provincial government for “financial support” after he updated the city’s third and fourth homicides for 2019 on Friday.

Chief Geoff Nelson says the community has reported twice as many shootings in 2019 than Toronto so far.

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“2019 in Brantford has been unprecedented as it relates to gun violence,” said Nelson.

With roughly 100,000 people, Brantford has seen 12 shootings in 2019 with four fatalities from gunfire. Toronto, with a population of roughly 3 million, has had 203 shootings with 18 fatalities from gunfire in the same period.

“Generally speaking, these 12 shootings were not random criminal acts; the persons involved are believed to be entrenched with criminal and high-risk lifestyles, and in most cases, we believe they were known to each other.”

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Nelson went on to say that gun violence was not just an issue in Brantford, Toronto or Ottawa, but across Ontario.

Currently, Toronto receives money from both the provincial and federal governments to fight gang and gun violence, with the feds kicking in $6.76 million over five years and Queens Park doling out $25 million over four years.

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Meanwhile, Ottawa’s police budget is getting a $2 million boost from the Ford government to combat guns and gangs in 2019.

Nelson revealed Brantford police have requested similar help from the province, through the Community Safety and Policing grant.

“Addressing this issue will require the coordination and deployment of a multi-jurisdictional intervention strategy, and this will require greater support from the provincial government,” said Nelson.

“Specifically, we have asked for financial support from the province, through the Community Safety and Policing grant, so we can fully implement our Gun Violence Reduction Strategy, which would include our working in partnership with other jurisdictions to identify individual players and networks of players connected to gun-related crimes.”

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After 16 reported incidents involving firearms in the first 15 weeks of 2019, Brantford police launched a task force in April which pooled resources from existing units within the service.

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Brantford Police release surveillance footage of suspect in double homicide

Nelson says the Task Force, which works collaboratively with Gun and Gang Task Forces in other communities, has helped.

“The Task Force has proven to be effective with more than 20 arrests, the execution of 15 search warrants, and the recovery of a number of illicit firearms, drugs and money,” Nelson said.

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