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October 26th, 2012 · No Comments

Community Response Unit works to involve the community

By Victoria Prouse

Toronto Police 14 Division has worked diligently over the past few years to promote its image beyond the realm of law enforcement. Fundamental to their persona as, first and foremost, community members, is the work done by the Community Response Unit (CRU).

Staff Sergeant Darren Halman leads 14 Division’s CRU, which is comprised of 50 officers. “We work with the community to empower them to solve the problem,” with the ultimate goal to “try to get as many people involved.”

Halman emphasizes the crucial role the CRU plays in policing the city. “We’re not just trying to target people who are committing criminal offences,” he said. Rather, they will “have a conversation.”

14 Division covers an area that Sergeant Halman and Officer Brian Haywood describe as having undergone a rapid and marked transformation over the past 10 years. Consequently, the work being done by the CRU has become increasingly significant.

Haywood explained that ten years ago, Parkdale was a hotspot for crack cocaine-related arrests. Now crucial community networks have been consolidated in this neighbourhood, which have supported the growth of a different population in this area.

Another example is Liberty Village, now a favourite location for young professionals. However, “when you talk to the older population […] they called it ‘hooker alley’; when the trucks start, hookers would be between the trucks.”

The Community Response Unit addresses many of the issues this new demographic considers undesirable. Cutting down on park nuisance problems, as well as Project Post, an initiative increasing police presence in marginalized neighbourhoods, are CRU initiatives. “Kids shouldn’t have to go to a park and be afraid,” said Halman.

“At the CRU, what we do here is develop a strategy to help go and solve the problem.”

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