Guns and gangs cash to curb street violence, police hope
$54M federal fund to help Crown attorneys develop 'intensive' bail strategy
Ottawa police are hoping new funding from the upper levels of government will help curb gun and gang violence in the city by keeping the worst offenders off the streets.
On Monday, the federal government announced it's giving Ontario $54 million over the next three years to combat illegal weapons and gang activity in cities, money earmarked street-level anti-gang initiatives, intelligence-gathering in the province's jails and specialized prosecutors.
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In eastern Ontario, some of that funding will be used to hire four assistant Crown attorneys who will be tasked with providing legal advice to local police services fighting gang violence.
The attorneys will be expected to develop an "intensive" bail strategy for firearm and gang-specific cases, the province said.
Ottawa police Insp. Carl Cartright said having attorneys who are well-versed in gun and gang-related cases articulating bail recommendations to the courts will be helpful to police.
"We do have incidents where at times we arrest individuals for violent weapon offences, do not expect them to be released and they do get released," he said. "We respect the courts, but that is an ongoing conversation."
Cartright said the main concern is with repeat offenders who are granted bail.
"It's a very, very fine-line balancing act," he said.
Cartright said partner organizations will benefit from the funding, too.
"Those organizations that sit with us at the table, whether it's Crime Prevention Ottawa, whether it's the John Howard Society, they would have access to this funding also to support their own initiatives."
It's not clear yet how much money will be available directly to the Ottawa Police Service. Cartright said the funding will likely go toward rehabilitation and exit strategies for youth involved in gangs.
"If you're going to remove them, you better have everything in place for the rehabilitation to put these members back in society," Cartright said.
The province is also putting money toward supporting survivors of human trafficking, creating a bail team for gun-related offences in the Greater Toronto Area and establishing a GTA/Greater Golden Horseshoe gun and gang fund.