55 Division cops talk shop

The good news is most major crime (murder, sex assault, assault, robbery and break and enter) is down in 55 Division, particularly in the area between Woodbine and Victoria Park, and Danforth and the lake. The bad news is that graffiti has increased, and theft from cars as well as theft over $5,000 are also both on the rise.

About two dozen East End residents joined half as many police and parking enforcement officers at Community Centre 55 on March 23 for a town hall-style meeting, for police to report on general crime and for the community to bring questions and complaints to police.

Detective-Sergeant Warren Wilson discussed how police use crime statistics to pick up on patterns and hot spots for crime in the division. Because police resources are not infinite, “we have to put them where we’re going to get the most out of them,” he said.

The message he brought was echoed throughout the night – residents need to make sure they communicate with police. Hearing from the community is the most accurate way for police to effectively focus their resources.

Detective-Sergeant Adrianne Johnstone explained the various ways the division gathers “intelligence.” Along with calls for service, there are tips from Crime Stoppers, analyses of crime and, most importantly, official complaint forms, which are available at the station at Coxwell and Dundas, and should be available online soon at torontopolice.on.ca/d55.

“When we put all these things together we get a really good, clear picture of what’s going on in the division,” she said.

Constable Steve McGran talked about Project Picasso, an initiative that is gathering volunteers and donated supplies to clean up or cover up graffiti in hot spots around the division. The group has so far tackled walls at Queen and Hammersmith, a storage facility on Gerrard Street East, and Queen and Carlaw. He sympathized with Beachers fed up with waking up to fresh tags, and said it frustrates him as much as any other Beach resident.

When asked about how many gang tags are found in the division, McGran replied, “I would say in this particular area we don’t have that.”

During the question and answer session following the presentations, local resident Donna Kellway asked whether people should call the police simply for something they find suspicious.

“If something seems out of place to the point that you’re thinking of calling us, please do,” replied Johnstone.

“There’s no such thing as a bad piece of information,” added Staff Sergeant Ian Moyer. “Those little things almost always come back to be the most important pieces of information in the puzzle.”

Non-emergency calls in 55 Division – which covers roughly the Don River to Victoria Park, and Danforth down to the lake – can be directed to 416-808-5500.

“We want the community to tell us what’s going on in the parks, in the back alleys,” said Superintendent Frank Bergen.

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