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Province provides Toronto police $3M to double CCTV cameras to combat gun violence

Ontario government announces $3M to double CCTV cameras in Toronto
WATCH ABOVE: The provincial government has announced a cash infusion to more than double the number of CCTV cameras in Toronto. As Shallima Maharaj explains, the move is meant to take aim at the spate of gun violence in the city.

Premier Doug Ford, along with Mayor John Tory, announced Friday that an additional $3 million in funding over three years will go towards Toronto police to double the number of surveillance cameras in the city.

The two made the joint announcement at the Toronto Police College in Etobicoke on Friday morning.

The province said it will expand Toronto’s CCTV (closed-circuit television) system from 34 cameras to 74 cameras.

“To have the extra sets of eyes out there for the police is great,” Insp. Joe Matthews from the integrated gun and gun task force told Global News. “Oftentimes with these incidents of violence that we’re having, people are reluctant to come forward and this actually gives us a great starting point for a lot of investigations.”

Matthews said if people are aware the cameras are there, they could potentially be reluctant to take part in criminal activity.

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READ MORE: Toronto police announce new project targeting gun violence after recent spike in shootings

Both Ford and Tory said CCTV cameras will help police in their investigations.

“My message to these violent criminals, to the people terrorizing innocent families is this: We’re coming for you, we will catch you, and we will bring you to justice,” Ford said at the news conference.

“We have seen the value that video evidence can bring,” Tory said. “The level of gun violence continues to be unacceptable.”

Toronto Police Chief Saunders echoed the need for surveillance cameras at the news conference. Saunders said CCTV cameras, as one tool, have played a large role in solving many cases.

The locations for these new surveillance cameras will be determined with the help of the guns and gangs unit as well as community and front-line officers, said Saunders.

WATCH: New Toronto CCTV camera locations to be decided by consulting with stakeholders

New Toronto CCTV camera locations to be decided by consulting with stakeholders
New Toronto CCTV camera locations to be decided by consulting with stakeholders

The additional funding comes just after all three levels of government provided a combined $4.5 million to the Toronto Police Service in an effort to combat a recent spike in shootings across the city.

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Toronto police said that money would specifically go to Project Community Space, an 11-week project largely aimed at targeting gangs in Toronto.

Toronto’s gun violence was pushed into the spotlight when 17 people were injured in shootings over the August long weekend. Police have said the majority of those incidents were gang-related.

There have been 274 shootings this year so far with 412 victims – considerably higher than mid-August of 2014, when Toronto had seen 117 shootings with 145 victims.

“Gangs are the predominant assailants when it comes to shootings, for sure,” said Matthews. “Our firearms, about three-quarters are coming from the States, when we look at all firearms.”

“When we look at handguns specifically, it’s actually well over 80 per cent.”

Tory has been calling on Ottawa to implement a ban on handguns, but Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has so far only said the federal government will consider additional gun control measures and voters will have to wait for the Liberals’ election platform for details.

Premier Doug Ford said in total, the province is investing $28 million over four years to fight gun and gang violence in Toronto.

— With files from Shallima Maharaj and The Canadian Press.

WATCH: Toronto mayor says level of gun violence in city makes people angry, anxious

Toronto mayor says level of gun violence in city makes people angry, anxious
Toronto mayor says level of gun violence in city makes people angry, anxious

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