Gleaner

Serving Toronto's most liveable communities with the Annex Gleaner and Liberty Gleaner

NEWS: Crime down overall in 14 Division

March 9th, 2016 · No Comments

Incidents connected to Entertainment District

By Brian Burchell

An overall reduction in crime across 14 Division, particularly in key categories, is overshadowed by a city-wide increase in shootings, some of which have occurred in the division’s southern flank.

AGleanerMar2016Page03Chart

There were 395 recorded shooting incidents, defined by the Toronto Police Service as those in which a victim was shot or shot at, throughout the city in 2015, compared to 243 in the previous year. However, the number of fatal shootings decreased by 3.7 per cent last year, with the total number of homicides in 2015 standing at 57 compared to 56 in 2014.

There have been seven shootings so far this year in 14 Division alone, including one incident in Chinatown that occurred in the early hours of Jan. 30 and resulted in two homicides. An arrest has been made in that case.

The shootings “are almost without exception targeted”—Detective Sergeant Brian Kelly, 14 Division

The shootings “are almost without exception targeted”, stresses Detective Sergeant Brian Kelly, the crime manager at 14 Division. “But that is not to say there are not unintended victims caught in the crossfire.”

Dieter Riedel, who represents the Wellington Place Neighbourhood Association (bounded by Spadina Avenue, and Bathurst, Front, and Adelaide streets) on the division’s Community Police Liaison Committee, says the increased shootings, as well as knife fights and street brawls, are “directly correlated to what is happening between 11 p.m. and 3 a.m. with nightlife activity and the outflow from the area when the entertainment clubs close”.

The seven shootings this year have all occurred in or around the area Riedel refers to: Jan. 23 on the Bathurst Street bridge at Front Street; Jan. 30 on Queen Street West near Denison Avenue; Feb. 14 in Exhibition Place; Feb. 20 at Queen and Crawford streets; and Feb. 22 at Queen and Dufferin streets.

Although Chinatown is not considered part of the Entertainment District, the January double homicide may indicate that club patrons and staff head to the area to eat at restaurants that are open long after the clubs close.

“We consider there to be an overly high concentration of licensed occupancy in clubs, bars, and restaurants,” says Riedel. “I live on a block where it is permitted to serve 4,400 patrons. We have raised our concerns to the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, [but it is] unwilling to put a cap on this concentration, or even to place additional conditions on licence holders. The resulting problems that we are seeing become police issues and they don’t always have the resources to deal with that.”

Riedel also thinks that alleviating some of the traffic issues would help ease conflict between club patrons.

“The worst traffic that King Street West experiences is on the weekends between 10 p.m. and 3 a.m. Daytime rush hour simply does not compare, it’s far worse at night.”

As to other categories, theft from auto for February is, as Kelly calls it, an “unprecedented” and meagre three.

Kelly explained that the large increase in “theft of autos”, not to be confused with the aforementioned “theft from auto”, is due to the category’s inclusion of e-bikes for the purposes of the crime count.

He attributes the statistically significant reduction in robberies to “the fact that many of the violent offenders were in custody [in 2015 while at] the same time police had targeted patrols in the Entertainment District where most of the robberies were occurring”.

Fourteen Division includes much of the Annex west of Spadina Avenue, stretching to Dufferin Avenue, as well as a wide swath of downtown from the waterfront north to Dupont Street.

Tags: Annex · News