Community Safety

Crime and Safety - An Update on the Toronto Police Service Modernization Plan

As our City continues to grow and change, so must our approaches to combatting crime and improving neighbourhood safety. While Toronto has been ranked the safest city in North America, community safety remains my top priority as your City Councillor for Ward 15 – Don Valley West.

In my May 2019 newsletter, I included an update on The Way Forward – Toronto Police Services' (TPS) comprehensive and transformational modernization plan. While my previous article focused on the creation of the Neighbourhood Policing Program (NPP), I want to provide you with additional information on the broader TPS modernization strategy.

The Transformational Task Force has created an Action Plan to improve the police force's operational structure by optimizing the use of technology to enhance capacity and capability in the force. Officers will be provided with mobile computer workstations, GPS systems, and smartphone mobile devices that will ensure they are fully connected to the communities they're working in. This update lends itself particularly well to the NPP, which will assign specialized officers to individual neighbourhoods so they can familiarize themselves with the unique needs of a community.

Mobile computer workstations will allow officers to remain active in the community while completing routine duties like paperwork and reports, rather than requiring them to commute back and forth from the Police Station. This initiative will improve response times and ensure that more officers are present in our neighbourhoods.

Finally, smartphone mobile technologies will eliminate the use of radios and paper note-taking, which are still widely used throughout the force. Officers will use mobile devices to return phone calls, send emails, and record information without returning to the station. Smartphones may also be used to take official photographs that can be used during investigations.

For more information and to read the full Action Plan, please visit the TPS website here.

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Thanks to the Lawrence Park Ratepayers' Association and The Neighbourhood Watch for hosting the Crime and Safety Meeting – it was great to engage with the community on such an important topic.

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Road Safety at Yonge-Eglinton

While construction of Metrolinx's Eglinton Crosstown LRT project unfolds along Eglinton Avenue, pedestrian safety remains a top concern at the intersection of Yonge and Eglinton – one of the busiest junctures in our City.
 
At the May 2019 meeting of Toronto City Council, I moved a motion with Councillor Mike Colle requesting Metrolinx to provide crossing assistance personnel at Yonge and Eglinton for the duration of the Crosstown construction to improve pedestrian safety.
 
Traffic and pedestrian safety remain some of my top priorities as your City Councillor. I look forward to our continued work together to improve road safety across Don Valley West.

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Neighbourhood Policing Program

Toronto Police Services (TPS) is modernizing. As our city continues to grow and change – with no sign of slowing down – so, too, must our Policing strategies. Recognizing this, TPS and its Transformational Task Force have assessed the needs of our dynamic communities and created the Neighbourhood Policing Program (NPP).

The NPP is a modernized program that is neighbourhood-centric and aims to reduce crime by assigning specialized officers to individual neighbourhoods. This approach will “humanize the badge” and allow officers to familiarize themselves with the unique needs of each of Toronto’s 140 neighbourhoods. In October, TPS announced plans to expand the NPP from a 96-officer pilot to a force-wide, transformational strategy.

While Toronto has been ranked the safest city in North America, I know crime and safety remains a top concern for the residents of Don Valley West. In the 2019 budget, City Council approved funding to hire more than 300 new officers to join the TPS ranks. This comes in addition to the 200 new officers we approved funding for in 2018 – meaning that there will be more than 500 new pairs of boots on the ground to ensure our communities remain safe.

Road Safety

Last term, I spearheaded Toronto’s first-ever comprehensive Road Safety Plan as former Chair of the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee. The plan takes a data-based, strategic approach and includes more than 50 countermeasures across multiple emphasis areas – pedestrians, school safety zones, senior safety zones, cyclists, aggressive driving and distraction.

Some of our top priorities are school children and school neighbourhoods, and I’ve been working to accelerate the roll-out of School Safety Zones across the ward. School Safety Zones feature lower speed limits, improved street lighting, leading pedestrian intervals, mid-block crossings, increased enforcement, improved pavement makings, flashing signage, and “Watch Your Speed” driver feedback signs.

This school year, the City is transitioning responsibility for the school crossing guard program from Toronto Police Services (TPS) to the Transportation Services division. Unfortunately, some of our school communities went without regular crossing guard coverage this year due to the number of newly warranted crosswalks and the unexpected volume of guards that retired. With the support of Ward 15 school parents, I moved a motion at City Council requesting that the General Manager, Transportation Services address the issue immediately. My motion resulted in the City hiring two additional contractors to backfill unstaffed crossing guard locations for the remainder of the 2018-2019 school year.

As part of Vision Zero, Ward 15 now has access to 8 of its very own mobile Watch Your Speed driver feedback signs. These signs contain a radar device with an LED display that shows the operating speeds of passing motorists, reminding them to obey the posted speed limit. These signs are installed on a temporary basis at the request of local residents, and have been shown to reduce driver speeds by up to 34%. To request a Watch Your Speed Sign on your street, please call or email my office.

Mobile Watch Your Speed Program

Traffic infiltration and vehicle speeds are issues in many Ward 15 neighbourhoods.
 
As part of the City's Vision Zero Road Safety Program, new mobile Watch Your Speed Program (WYSP) signs have been installed throughout the City on a rotational, per-request basis.
 
The mobile WYSP uses LED driver feedback signs to measure the speeds of oncoming vehicles and display them to passing motorists. These new, solar-powered signs are installed on hydro poles or streetlights and are rotated throughout the ward. WYSP signs typically stay in place for 2-3 week periods.
 
In a 2016 study, staff found that where a mobile WYSP sign was installed, vehicle operating speeds decreased on that street. The City installed 188 WYSP signs in 2018 and this number will increase in 2019.
 
For more information on the Watch Your Speed Program and to request a sign on your street, please visit the City's website.

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Crime and Safety Update

It is clear to me that issues around public safety and crime remain top of mind for residents across Don Valley West. While Toronto is currently ranked the safest city in North America, I want to ensure that the residents of Ward 15 continue to feel safe and secure in our neighbourhoods.

Toronto Police are integral to our community-based safety efforts. As part of the 2019 Toronto City Budget, City Council approved more than 300 new officers. This is on top of the more than 200 police officers the City provided funding for in 2018. These 500 new officers will help to ensure that Toronto Police have the front-line resources they need to keep our neighbourhoods safe.

In order to ensure that these new police officers are able to direct their efforts to high priority and emergency situations, Toronto Police will be 'civilianizing' 184 uniform positions. This means that, in 2019, 184 positions within TPS will be filled by civilian employees rather than officers. These positions are largely administrative, freeing up officers whose time is better spent in our communities. This initiative is one of many that Toronto Police are exploring to deliver more effective service to residents.

Crossing Guards Update

In recent months, I have been contacted by Don Valley West parents regarding the unacceptable gaps in crossing guard coverage in some of our school communities.
 
The City of Toronto is in the process of transitioning responsibility for the school crossing guard program from Toronto Police Services (TPS) to its Transportation Services division. While TPS is responsible for the provision of crossing guards for the 2018-2019 school year, the City has worked with them to contract an independent security service provider for relief coverage when a regular crossing guard is absent from work.

This school year, a number of crosswalks in our neighbourhoods have been without regular guard coverage due to the unexpected number of guards that retired and newly warranted locations.
 
As a result of this, I moved a motion at the December 2018 meeting of City Council requesting that the General Manager, Transportation Services make recommendations to improve and enhance the school crossing guard program. I have since followed this up with two meetings City management requesting immediate attention to the matter and urging staff to use all tools at their disposal to ensure that the City is providing reliable crossing guard coverage.
 
The City responded by pursuing an additional sole-sourced contract to manage demand and fill the remaining crossing guard vacancies in Ward 15. These new crossing guards have now completed police vulnerable sector screening and training and commenced duties on March 4th.
 
The importance of school crossing safety cannot be overstated and I will continue to advocate for students and parents across the ward until this issue is resolved. If you notice an unstaffed crossing guard post, please report it to the City's school crossing guard program by emailingSchoolCrossingGuard@toronto.ca, or call 311.

Crossing Guards

In recent months, I have been contacted by Don Valley West parents regarding the unacceptable gaps in crossing guard coverage in some of our school communities.
 
The City of Toronto is in the process of transitioning responsibility for the school crossing guard program from Toronto Police Services (TPS) to its Transportation Services division. While TPS is responsible for the provision of crossing guards for the 2018-2019 school year, the City has worked with them to contract an independent security service provider for relief coverage when a regular crossing guard is absent from work.

This school year, a number of crosswalks in our neighbourhoods have been without regular guard coverage due to the unexpected number of guards that retired and surplus of newly warranted locations.
 
As a result of this, I moved a motion at the December 2018 meeting of City Council requesting that the General Manager, Transportation Services make recommendations to improve and enhance the school crossing guard program. I have since followed up with two personal letters to the General Manager requesting her immediate attention to the matter and urging staff to use all tools at their disposal to ensure that the City is providing reliable crossing guard coverage.
 
The importance of school crossing safety cannot be overstated and I will continue to advocate for students and parents across the ward until this issue is resolved. If you notice a vacant crossing guard post, please report it to the City's school crossing guard program by emailing SchoolCrossingGuard@toronto.ca, or call 311.

Community Policing

In recent months, I have heard from a number of concerned residents about how the City can best address crime in our neighbourhoods. More than ever before, the City needs to examine how we organize and deliver policing services in Toronto so that members are able to effectively and sustainably meet the complex needs of our City.
 
Community policing is an important aspect of the City's efforts to keep residents safe. As a City Council, we are committed to continuing to make investments in neighbourhood-based policing initiatives. Between last year's committment and this year's budget proposal, the City will have hired an additional 500 uniformed police officers.
 
As the budget process unfolds, I will join my colleagues in calling for continued and additional funding to community policing initiatives.