McGuinty Government Tackles Crime In Entertainment District



    Targeting Guns And Gangs, Organized Crime And Illegal Drugs

    TORONTO, June 10 /CNW/ - The McGuinty government is extending Toronto's
highly successful anti-violence intervention strategy to focus on the Toronto
entertainment district, Community Safety and Correctional Services Minister
Monte Kwinter announced today.
    "We are taking action to get guns, gangs and drugs off our streets
because a safe community is a healthy and prosperous community," said Kwinter.
"We are giving police the support they need to wipe out gun violence and get
rid of illegal drug operations as we build safer, stronger communities in
Ontario."
    The Toronto Police Service will receive $5 million to renew its
successful anti-violence intervention strategy. The funding will help create
an additional intelligence-led rapid response team that will focus on reducing
violent incidents and increasing community safety in Toronto's entertainment
district.
    "The entertainment district is a challenging area of the city for us to
police," said Toronto Chief of Police Bill Blair. "The government's
contribution to our anti-violence intervention strategy and the support we
receive from local-area business and community organizations helps us keep
residents and visitors safe."
    "This funding will allow the Toronto Police Service to build on the
tremendous success of their Toronto Anti-Violence Intervention Strategy," said
Attorney General Michael Bryant. "The McGuinty government will continue to do
everything within its power to fight gun violence. We are committed to working
closely with police, prosecutors, our justice partners and local communities
to ensure they have the resources they need to investigate, prosecute and
prevent gun crime in our communities."
    The funding announced today is in addition to a $12-million package of
initiatives Premier McGuinty announced on June 6 to target guns and gangs,
organized crime and illegal drugs across the province.
    The anti-crime package will:

    
    -   Provide funding for 15 other police services to establish anti-guns
        and gangs programs based on the successful Toronto Anti-Violence
        Intervention Strategy model
    -   Create a Provincial Advisory Group on Marijuana Grow Operations to
        work with local communities to counter the threat to emergency
        responders and the public
    -   Establish a Crystal Methamphetamine Elimination Project to dismantle
        methamphetamine labs, and target criminal organizations that operate
        them
    -   Increase the capacity of the Office of the Fire Marshal to meet the
        additional demands of fire and explosion investigations and community
        safety issues resulting from the growth in methamphetamine labs and
        marijuana grow operations
    -   Enhance the capacity of the Ontario Provincial Police, working with
        municipal police to identify, locate, seize, and forfeit the illegal
        gains from criminal organizations
    -   Add a new intelligence unit to help identify gang members and reduce
        the potential for criminal activity in Ontario.

    This new anti-crime package builds on the McGuinty government's initial
$51-million Guns and Gangs program announced in January 2006, which included a
new operations centre, additional resources for police, more officers on the
streets, more prosecutors and dedicated major crime courts.
    "These initiatives support the government's commitment to safer
communities by being tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime," said
Kwinter.

    Disponible en français

                           www.mcscs.jus.gov.on.ca


    Backgrounder
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

               MCGUINTY GOVERNMENT TAKES AIM AT GUNS AND GANGS,
                      ORGANIZED CRIME AND ILLEGAL DRUGS
    

    The McGuinty government is broadening its highly successful Guns and
Gangs project to combat violence and build safer communities for Ontario
citizens.

    Toronto Entertainment District

    In 2006, the government provided the Toronto Police Service with
$5 million to establish the Toronto Anti-Violence Intervention Strategy to
strengthen its offensive against guns and gangs in high-priority areas of the
city. As of December 2006, Toronto Police had seized 422 firearms and made
almost 6,000 arrests, making significant reductions in crime through the
targeted areas.
    The Province is now providing $5 million to enable the Toronto Police
Service to continue and expand the anti-violence intervention strategy to the
entertainment district. This area is known for its nightlife and attracts
approximately 55,000 people every weekend. Recently the area has witnessed
increasing gun violence and criminal activity. The expansion will allow for
the creation of one additional anti-violence team specifically for the
entertainment district.

    Premier's Anti-Crime Package

    Building on the success of last year's $51-million investment and using
the Toronto Anti-Violence Intervention Strategy as a model, the McGuinty
government is investing $12 million to help other Ontario communities target
crime and violence. The new anti-crime package announced by Premier McGuinty
on June 6 will:

    
    -   Implement an Anti-Violence Intervention Strategy in Communities
        Outside Toronto ($6.3 million)

        The government will invest $6.3 million in 2007 to support police
        services in Golden Horseshoe communities (Brantford, Halton,
        Hamilton, Niagara), Essex County (Amherstburg, LaSalle, Windsor),
        Durham, Kenora, London, Ottawa, Peel, Thunder Bay, Waterloo and York
        Region. These communities are developing local anti-crime initiatives
        based on the Toronto model.

    -   Create a Provincial Advisory Group on Marijuana Grow Operations
        ($400,000)

        The community safety hazards of marijuana grow operations call for
        dedicated resources. The new advisory group will develop methods to
        reduce the risks to public safety from marijuana grow operations.
        Through additional resources, the Office of the Fire Marshal will
        provide increased training to help reduce the risks to health and
        safety for police and fire services arising from marijuana grow
        operations.

    -   Target Crystal Methamphetamine Labs ($2.0 million)

        Illicit methamphetamine labs pose health and safety risks to Ontario
        citizens. Since June 2006, six labs have been dismantled in Ontario
        (Durham, Peel, Sault Ste. Marie area, Stokes Bay and Haliburton). The
        new Methamphetamine Response Team will supplement the Ontario
        Provincial Police Drug Enforcement Section by providing expertise in
        dismantling methamphetamine labs and targeting the criminal
        organizations that operate them. The Office of the Fire Marshal is
        also being given additional resources to meet the increasing demands
        for fire and explosion investigations and for the training and
        education of police and fire services resulting from the spread of
        methamphetamine labs.

    -   Expand the Ontario Provincial Police Asset Forfeiture Unit
        ($1.0 million)

        This will enhance the capacity of the Ontario Provincial Police,
        working with municipal police to identify, locate, seize, and forfeit
        the illegal gains from criminal organizations.

    -   Intelligence Gathering ($900,000)

        A new Intelligence Unit will help identify gang members and reduce
        the potential for criminal activity in Ontario.

    -   Provide Additional Support for Crown Attorneys ($1.4 million)

        This support will improve response to gun crimes, with Crowns working
        with police from day one of an investigation on matters including
        seizures, wiretaps, search warrants and other investigative
        requirements.

    The McGuinty government is making significant investments to target crime
in Ontario. In 2006, the government introduced a $51-million Guns and Gangs
strategy that included a new operations centre and a broad range of justice
initiatives to cut down on crime.

    Contact:
    Anthony Brown
    Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services
    416-314-7772

    Disponible en français

                           www.mcscs.jus.gov.on.ca
    




For further information:

For further information: Annette Phillips, Minister's Office, (416)
326-8265, (647) 205-6598 (cellular); Anthony Brown, Communications Branch,
(416) 314-7772

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Ontario Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services

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