Police visit Bloor West town hall

Police Chief Bill Blair and councillor-elect Sarah Doucette sit on panel and talk about the new police station

A new station is being built for Toronto Police’s 11 Division.

The only thing is, it’s in 12 Division.

A panel that included Police Chief William Blair, Ward 13 councillor-elect Sarah Doucette and police from 11 Division spoke about the new station at a town hall meeting held at Bishop Marrocco/Thomas Merton Catholic secondary school on Nov. 15.

Residents also learned that the boundary lines for 11 Division, currently Toronto’s smallest police division, would be expanded and would incorporate the new location. The new station is scheduled to open in November, 2011 at Davenport Road and Osler Street, an intersection currently within 12 Division’s boundaries.

“We’re taking a bit of their turf,” said Staff Inspector Peter Lennox while speaking to the nearly 100 people present.

Police also updated residents on the crime situation in their neighbourhood and the efforts undertaken to reduce victimization.

Attendees were told that two of the three murders that occurred within the division in the last year have been solved. Theft from cars remains the area’s most prevalent crime and there has been a problem with high school students robbing fellow students for their electronics, among other things.

“A lot of kids get robbed for their marijuana,” said Detective Sergeant Niels Sondergaard. “That is something considered to be an underreported crime.”

Residents also expressed concern about a summer break-in in which a teen allegedly used a key to enter a friend’s home and have a house party while the friend’s family was on vacation.

Many residents were very vocal in expressing their feelings that justice had not been served in this incident. Police were hesitant to discuss details of the case because of the age of the alleged perpetrators. Officers said no charges were likely to be laid due to the youths’ age and a lack of evidence.

Chief Blair did use the opportunity to discuss how social networking was posing new challenges to police while at the same time providing them with a useful tool.

He explained how police used to reach out to local news channels when they needed the public’s help identifying suspects. But a younger officer convinced police to post security footage and mug shots on Youtube and Facebook. The result was a seven-fold increase in the amount of tips Crimestoppers received.

“I was very uncomfortable,” Blair said. “I will confess to you I thought I don’t like to see tapes which are normally for us as evidence used in what I was at the time, in my own mind, sort of dismissing as a banality, an entertainment. But (the officer) said ‘No we’ll put it on Youtube.’ We had 400,000 hits in the first 10 days.”

Toronto Police work with social media is garnering international attention. A couple of months ago Blair was invited to a police conference in Philadelphia about the issues surrounding social media.

“When I went I asked them, ‘Why did you ask the Chief of the Toronto Police to come down and speak on it?’ They said, ‘Because the best people in using social networking in law enforcement are from the Toronto Police Service.’ ”

About this article:

By: Tristan Carter
Posted: Nov 26 2010 5:40 pm
Filed in: NEWS
Edition: Toronto