Program targeting gun, gang violence in Toronto yields 463 arrests, police say

Click to play video: 'Toronto police release results of Project Community Space after violent night in the city'
Toronto police release results of Project Community Space after violent night in the city
WATCH ABOVE: A teen suffered serious, but non-life threatening injuries after a drive-by shooting in North York. Shallima Maharaj reports. – Dec 13, 2019

Toronto police say 463 people were arrested during a program aimed at targeting a rise of gun and gang violence in the city.

Project Community Space was created in August after a spike in shootings, including some that happened in broad daylight.

The project was originally supposed to run until the end of October, but after eight people were injured in shootings just before the project’s scheduled completion, it was extended by another month.

“This initiative was intelligence-led and included increased monitoring of bail compliance, enhanced engagement with community programs and the increased presence of uniformed officers in areas frequently associated with street gangs and higher rates of gun violence,” Supt. Steve Watts told reporters Friday.

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On Aug. 12, all three levels of government announced $4.5 million in additional funding for the Toronto Police Service to combat gun violence.

All of the $4.5 million was used over the course of the project, Watts said.

“Of the 463 arrests made, 97 of these individuals were on firearm-related bails,” Watts said.

“Sixteen of those individuals were charged with new gun-related offences as well as other charges and remaining charges included violent offences including robbery, forcible confinement, and sexual assault.”

Watts said the project allocated resources on top of what police normally have.

Police said 1,145 charges were laid, 20 per cent of which were for breach of bail or failure to comply offences. Nearly 250 guns were also seized.

Watts said rates for solving shooting-related crimes were “significantly higher” during the project as opposed to when it was not in place.

Click to play video: 'Man suffers serious injuries after daylight shooting in Toronto’s northwest end'
Man suffers serious injuries after daylight shooting in Toronto’s northwest end

Police said they made 89 referrals to community agencies during the project, including gang exit and youth diversion programs.

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“Our work with the community agencies continues,” Watts said, adding a “multi-faceted” approach, including youth programs, is key to reducing violent crime.

He said police will continue hosting town halls in the city aimed at gang prevention.

There will be a recommendation for certain investigative aspects of the program to become permanent, Watts said, though he did not provide further details.

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