Future of 54 Division meetings postponed

[attach]6329[/attach]Toronto Police are so focused on tackling the issue of gun violence in the city, they’ve put community meetings to discuss the future of 54 Division and 13 Division on hold until further notice.

Though the meetings were to deal with policing infrastructure and not enforcement, Toronto Police felt it was more important to tackle the top issue on everyone’s minds.

“With what we’ve got facing us this summer with the increase in gun violence and the increase in fear and apprehension, we just wanted to make sure our officers were focused in on that,” said Deputy Chief of Police Peter Sloly. “Everything else is a distant second priority to our number one priority, which is reducing gun violence.”

The most recent meeting was to be held at the Dennis R. Timbrell Recreation Centre in Thorncliffe Park on July 24, but Sloly called it off in the late afternoon of that day.

This was to be the second of four planned meetings — the two to follow have also been cancelled — to get community feedback on three options police are looking for 54 Division, which is bounded by Eglinton Avenue E. to the north, Victoria Park Avenue to the east, Danforth Avenue to the south and the Don River to the west.

Those options are:

1. Build a new station in a new location, while maintaining existing boundaries.

2. Close the existing station, realign divisional boundaries of surrounding divisions to incorporate all areas of the closed division, reassign officers to surrounding divisions.

3. Amalgamate two divisions (with or without boundary realignment) and build a new station.

The future of 54 Division is being discussed, along with that of 13 Division, which is bound by the CN Rail line near Caledonia on the west, Lawrence Avenue W. to the north, Bathurst Street and Spadina Road on the east, and the CP Rail line near Dupont to the south, as both have been identified as divisions that are due for replacement in the near-term capital budget.

But the deadline to make a decision on those is far enough away that police were not concerned with delaying the meetings until later this year.

“Those meetings will likely resume in relatively short order,” Sloly said. “They’re not going to stop, they’re just going to slow down a bit while we focus on the number one priority in the city, which is improving safety.”

The fact of the matter, Sloly said, is Toronto Police want all hands on deck to combat the gun violence seen recently in the city, and that includes the unit commanders of the two divisions in question.

“In the case with Peter Yuen in 54 Division and Doug Quan in 13 Division, they’re hands-on guys — they’re going to be strapping on the gun and heading out there with our officers and doing some of the heavy lifting, as well as being in a position to be physically present in the community,” he said. “They’re all busy people and they have multiple priorities.

“At this time of year, given the year we’ve had, the number one priority is public safety,” Sloly said. “We just want all of our unit commanders focused on that, all of their people focused on that, and all of the communities that they’re working in focused on working with police.”