Tuesday, August 16, 2005


There has been a fair amount of discussion about the gang violence here in Toronto, but little has be discussed about how to approach the community (in this case the black community) -- in search of gangs and criminals -- withot targetting the community as a whole.

A Toronto City Councillor, Michael Thompson, feels that the police shouldn't make that attempt. In fact, he thinks the police should stop black residents at random.

From the Globe:

Stop black youths at random, Toronto councillor suggests

Toronto — A Toronto city councillor is floating a controversial idea on curbing gun violence in the city.

Michael Thompson says police should be allowed to “target” young black men at random as part of a crackdown on guns. Mr. Thompson, who is black, said a large percentage of the guns being used and a large number of people being killed are in the black community, so there is a need to target people in the community.

He said he is not calling for police to pull people over just because they are black but because gun violence is affecting the black community.

Deputy police chief Keith Forde, who is also black, says chief Bill Blair would “never, ever agree to that.”
There have been 30 gun-related deaths in Toronto among the 44 homicides in the city so far this year.
In a new effort to reduce violence in the city, Mr. Blair announced Monday that he is reassigning 100 desk officers to uniform duty.
They will join street patrol officers and provide a bridge until 96 recruits graduate from police college next month.
Mr. Blair redeployed 50 officers to a problem area in the northwestern part of the city earlier this month

Is this the right thing to do? Given that this crisis is affecting (almost solely) the black community, should the police engage in these kind of tactics? Is it now okay because a Black Councillor says it is?

I'm conflicted. On the one hand, I see the need to get deep into these communities when fighting these gangs. And when you are showing you mean business, it often means some inconvenience (and frankly harassment) of completely innocent people.

But at the same time, I'm concerned about the long lasting effect this will have on the relationship between the community and the police. Lets face it, some cops are a tad overzealous when it comes to "enforcement". At the same time, signficant harrassement will only build suspicion on both sides. When you're trying to establish roots in the community so people will trust you enough to give up the perps. distrust is can be viral.

There's no problem the issue needs to be solved (or at least controlled). It will be interesting to see the community's reaction for the Councillors plan.

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