Lake Shore Blvd. is the Service’s newest beat.
The Lake Shore Blvd. foot patrol will see a pair of officers walking the beat, starting March 19. An additional two officers will be added in June to create seven-day coverage along Lake Shore, from Etobicoke Creek to the Humber River.
Supt. James Ramer said the foot patrol is a redeployment of resources that were being used to run the 22 Division sub-station at the Toronto Police College.
“This initiative brings the police back into the community rather than the community going to the police,” Ramer says, of the decision that was made in consultation with the community.
After 21 Division station was closed in 2001 and the small Division amalgamated into 22 Division, residents have sought to keep a bricks-and-mortar police presence in South Etobicoke. In 2006, Councillor Mark Grimes and community volunteers raised funds to open a storefront station on Lake Shore Blvd. that was manned by 22 Division officers. When the Toronto Police College was opened in 2009, a 22 sub-station was part of the design.
The reality is that the substation was underused and not the best way to keep a police presence in the neighbourhood.
Two officers were working at the sub-station, Monday to Friday, while officers were taken off the Primary Response Unit that handles radio calls to man the station.
Analysis found that one substation officer was dealing with only 111 occurrences in 220 days.
“It wasn’t an effective use of our resources,” Ramer says.
“Given the budget constraints we’re in, it’s a luxury we can’t afford.”
He says the community can be heartened to know that 22 Division station and the college draw over 250 officers to South Etobicoke on a daily basis.
Ramer says the foot patrol makes sense for the Lake Shore, as police can cover the area on foot or by hopping on and off the Lake Shore streetcar.
“It’s a high-density area and very busy,” Ramer says. “The geography of the area lends itself to a foot patrol.”
The foot patrol is there to deal with crime and disorder issues such as drug dealing and prostitution, but also to form relationships with residents and shopowners to solve community issues.
He says it is a return to an age-old policing practice that he came on with, 30 years ago, as a young officer in 14 Division.
“Being on foot is a great way to get to know and interact with the community.”
City Councillor Mark Grimes said the foot patrol is supported by the community and the local Business Improvement Area.
“We've heard from the community that they would rather have a presence on Lake Shore, and this responds to that,” Grimes says.
“It lets the officers from 22 Division interact directly with local residents and businesses on a day-to-day basis and really respond to local issues.”
Though I don't delude myself that this will solve the problem of street level drugs and prostitution along the Lakeshore, I am encouraged that they are going to try this.
I know that a number of business and residents have been bringing their concerns to the police, so it is good to see a tangible response.
I hope that some sort of measurement is built into this initiative. They reference 250 calls a day, I would like to see the stats used to state that are used as a 'before and after' for a period of the initiative.
For our part, as residents, we should anectdotally try to take notice of what we are seeing on the Lakeshore.
- Are you seeing less of the activities that cause complaints?
- Are you seeing the police on a regular basis on foot in the neighbourhood?
I don't know if this initiative will help, but I would like to see an impact to the Jerks from 'not around here' driving slowly but erratically along the Lakeshore looking for something. I have heard more stories about people being bothered by them than I have any of the other types.
As a matter of fact I do notice that the same old cars, at night, circle Lakeshore Blvd again and again. They are obviously looking for drugs or hookers (what else?). Why else would someone drive mindlessly around the same blocks again and again. I know as a woman that I cannot walk along Lakeshore Blvd after dark without having cars slow right down as they pass you, and sometimes even pull up and stop ahead of you, or round the nearest corner, sit there, and honk, waiting for you! Even if you are carrying groceries or have a dog on a leash, or pay no attention whatsoever to the car/driver, these cars still hold out hope that you are on offer. Disgusting.
I personally am hoping that the ghastly hooker who trolls at the bottom of a certain nearby street week in and week out will be chased away for good, but I don't hold out very much hope. The law seems to have no teeth with these street level hookers----the cops know it, the hookers know it, the johns know it. But only the residents of the neighbourhood have to live with it.
Harmless, some may assert. Well, not necessarily. When johns are driving up and down your street on a regular basis, its a bit disconcerting to realize that in fact some johns are prone to violence, that many hookers do meet with violence at the hands of johns, and that a woman out walking alone has to fend off unwanted attention from strangers in cars, on her very own block, merely because she is a woman.
What if someone videotaped the offensive behaviour and POST it on youtube Search the license plate and sent a letter to th e residence.
How else can you enforce neighbourhood values?
I actually talked to a police officer once about this sort of idea, and he indicated that there could be legal trouble involved in publicizing license plates, but, that would need to be looked into. Perhaps the idea of the owners of corner buildings (or any building that is a hotspot for hookers to stand in front of) posting prominent signs of surveillance cameras might be effective. Or how about tougher enforcement of anti-loitering laws. One of the co-op buildings on Lakeshore Blvd W. has a prominent sign that says, No loitering, etc, along with bright lighting, and I notice that it seems to work. I have never seen a hooker stand in front of that building.
Whatever approach might work, I think has to be two-pronged. Discouraging the johns from coming by and discouraging the hookers from loitering. Unless there is a concerted effort by both law enforcement and residents, the problem will likely persist.
Here's an interesting study completed for Buffalo. It doesn't indicate much about what residents can do themselves, but the survey data about who Johns are is kind of interesting.