Weston featured in CCTV video surveillance article

Saturday’s article in the National Post didn’t do Weston any favours. As a result of crimes such as repeated muggings in prominent locations, long promised security cameras have yet to be installed along Lawrence at Weston, Pine and Jane. In the story which dealt with the growing number of such cameras around the city, our councillor cheerfully painted a grim picture (contrary to the reality of falling crime levels) of how crime-ridden we are in Weston. Do we really need to give people the impression that we live in a lawless area with bullets flying?

Much of the criminal activity occurring was phone theft. While serious and traumatic for victims, these are not major crimes. When allowed to continue however, they represent a failure of policing in that they were happening regularly in the same locations and little was done to address the problem. Petty thieves became emboldened and escalated their activities. Instead of staking out these known locations or setting up foot patrols where officers walk the beat and get to know a community, TPS uses a system in which police spend much of their shift waiting for calls. Hence the common appearance of several cruisers at a crime scene. We did have a group of provincially funded TAVIS officers in the summer of 2011 but one-off solutions are ineffective. The TAVIS team rarely ventured out in groups of less than five or six and rather than being ambassadors for the police, they seemed quite intimidating on occasions.

Once criminals know about cameras in a particular location, they will simply move to another spot in which to commit their crimes. The answer to crime prevention is not simply cameras and cell-phone legislation – we can’t have cameras in every public place surely?  Then what? Does crime prevention become a matter of employing teams of people who spend all day watching monitors? Perhaps send a drone over to check things out? Four million such cameras are currently in use in the U.K. They seem to do little to prevent criminal activity.

The answer is getting officers out of cars and walking the beat while getting to know a neighbourhood; especially in times and places when and where crimes are most likely to occur. The benefits will be immediate – healthier officers, better relations with the community, lower pollution levels and less crime.

In the meantime, don’t hold your breath for the cameras to appear anytime soon. In spite of a 2011 recommendation that they be installed, Toronto Police still have to ask permission from Toronto Hydro to use their poles.

Albanese will introduce bill to combat booze cans

Laura Albanese, our MP, will introduced a private member’s bill that will increase punishments for operators of ‘booze can’s—illegal after-hours clubs. The bill passed first reading last week.

Weston has had a problem with booze cans in the past. Sketchy CD shops and late-night hair salons have been fronts for this kind of business. Illegal, of course, booze cans are also dangerous. Several shootings have occured outside them, both in Weston and around the city.

If passed, Albanese’s bill will make bail for a first offense tougher. Offenders will not be allowed to possess more alcohol that is “reasonable for personal use” and will not be able to enter illegal after-hours clubs. Her bill will add a minimum 7 day liquor license suspension, in addition to the stiff fines and imprisonment that already exist.

In her press release, Albanese said,

The Liquor Licence Amendment Act seeks to curb the illegal sale and service of alcohol and the operation of ‘booze cans’ by giving police the tools needed to deter offenders. Our neighbours want to feel safe on their streets, on their property, and in their homes. We need fewer people under the influence of alcohol selling drugs or stolen property. We don’t want bar patrons discharging firearms after they stagger out of a bar. Bar owners need to know they share the responsibility if their patrons take away a climate of peace and trust from our community

Police make major arrest in Weston murders

Police made a spectacular arrest today of Mark Garfield Moore. The charges against this man read like a crime wave rather than one individual’s shocking deeds. He is accused of four murders around the city, including those of Courthney Facey and Mike James, who were murdered outside 1798 Weston Road last September 29. In addition there are many firearms-related charges.

All of the alleged offences took place in the relatively short timeframe between June and November of 2010. A number of related arrests have been made in what appears to be a major victory for the task force (Project Summit) specifically set up by Toronto Police to solve these cases. According to police, more arrests are forthcoming.

Det. Sgt Hank Idsinga told the CBC

Facey and James were gunned down for “no rhyme or reason,”

“Mr. Moore, allegedly, for unknown reasons, pulled up to them in his vehicle and shot and killed them.”

Facey, James and Spence had never had any contact with police and were not involved in any criminal activity.

The accused has another connection to Weston: his brother, Andre Moore, was suspected of shooting a police officer, Anthony Macias, outside the same apartment buildings at 1798 Weston Rd in 2001, according to the Globe and Mail. Andre Moore was shot dead three years ago. Macias, the police officer, was seriously injured.

Mark Moore was shot in the face in 2001 and this can be seen in his aspiring rapper video where he tellingly shows off large amounts of cash and ‘bling’. Moore was not from Weston; he committed most of his crimes in Scarborough, and he was born and raised there.

Toronto Crime Down Year-Over-Year; Some Concerns For Weston

In spite of media giving the impression that crime is on the rise in the city, official statistics are painting an interesting picture of crime in the two police divisions that Weston sits astride.

12 Division Neighbourhoods
31 Division Neighbourhoods

Weston south of Lawrence falls into 12 Division; above Lawrence, Weston sits in 31 Division.

Looking at crime indicators year to date, crime is down overall throughout the city of Toronto. Robberies and assaults are down slightly while auto theft and theft over $5000 are down by about 16% compared to last year at this time.

In 12 and 31 divisions, the numbers are slightly different. Because Weston sits in two large police divisions it is difficult to  know the specific crimes that happen in our neighbourhood.

12 Division Crime Indicators
31 Division Crime Indicators

Assault and Break and Enter

The charts show that in 12 Division, assault and break and enter are higher while everything else is lower. Conversely, Break and enter crimes are considerably lower in 31 Division while robberies have increased.

What we can learn from this is unclear. While we can take comfort from a lowering of crime across the city, we should be alert to any upward tendencies such as can be seen here.

The perception and the reality of crime are two different things. These figures from Toronto Police help us understand that.

All charts from http://www.torontopolice.on.ca