Mayor John Tory eyes more cameras as a way to curb surge in gun violence

Toronto Mayor John Tory says more cameras in crime-heavy hot spots could curb the gun violence that's shaken the city in recent days.

Tory is not convinced that there is a shortage of police officers in Toronto

Toronto Mayor John Tory believes an increase in the number of surveillance cameras in known crime hot spots could help in curbing crime. (CBC)

Toronto Mayor John Tory says more cameras in crime-heavy hot spots could curb the gun violence that's shaken the city in recent days. 

"I think we've learned over time that some responsible increase in the use of cameras does help to both maintain order and respect for the law, and also helps the police with their investigative activities," Tory told reporters on Friday.

"I'm sure, in a measured way like everything else, some more police presence, some more lights in certain places and some more cameras and some, you know, continued vigilance on the part of citizens, we can make sure the city stays safe."

However, Tory says while the city is hiring more officers, the spate of violence that's left a number of people dead — a number of those cases are highlighted in this story — shouldn't be attributed to the number of police. 

Earlier in 2018, a Toronto Police staff sergeant told CBC that officers are at a breaking point when it comes to short-staffing at work. "Our staffing is dangerously low and the system that is in place right now isn't working," the officer told CBC Radio's Metro Morning.

Earlier in 2018, a Toronto Police staff sergeant told CBC that officers are at a breaking point when it comes to short-staffing at work. (Petar Valkov/CBC)

Tory says what matters most is how the officers on the force are being used. 

"I've never heard anybody that was able to determine the precise right answer as to how many officers we need on the street," he said.

"We are redeploying police officers so they'll spend less time directing traffic and manning speed radar guns because we're taking steps as the city to have other people do that so that police officers will have more time to be in the community and dealing with issues related to keeping the city safe."

The mayor is assuring residents of an "unrelenting effort" on his part to make sure there are officers where they're needed and when they're needed.

Recent victims

At least five people have died in the last week. They are:

William David Long. (Toronto Police Service)

William David Long, 56, of Toronto. He was stabbed on May 25. Police said they received a call about a stabbing in the area of Kingston Road and Lee Avenue at about 11:15 p.m. When officers arrived on the scene, they found Long suffering from multiple stab wounds to his upper body. He was transported to hospital where he later died. The stabbing was one of the three reported by police on May 25.

Rhoderie Estrada, 41. She was killed inside her East York home on May 26. Police received a 911 call from an address on Torrens Avenue in the Pape Avenue and O'Connor Drive area at approximately 2:15 a.m. Officers were directed into the home by a person at the scene. Estrada's lifeless body was found inside.

Venojan Suthesan. (Facebook)

Venojan Suthesan, 21. He was fatally shot in Scarborough on May 27. Police said Suthesan was blitzed by a suspect who was waiting for him. The suspect shot several rounds and Suthesan was struck several times and collapsed. Suthesan was found suffering from a gunshot wound to the head just before midnight on Sunday on the property of Lester B. Pearson Collegiate Institute, a high school in Scarborough. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Matthew Staikos. (Toronto Police Service)

Matthew Staikos, 37. He was killed while walking near the intersection of Yorkville Avenue and Bay Street late on May 28. Police received a call around 11:30 p.m. reporting the sound of three gunshots and a man lying on the sidewalk. They arrived to find Staikos without vital signs. He was later pronounced dead at the scene by Toronto paramedics. 

Israel Edwards. (Toronto Police Service)

Israel Edwards, 18, of Pickering. He died on May 30 after being taken to hospital. Police and paramedics were called to the area shortly after 11 p.m. for reports of gunshots. They found Edwards suffering from several gunshot wounds, and he was taken to a local trauma centre where he died.

On May 31, a man believed to be in his 50s was rushed to hospital with life-threatening injuries after a shooting near Sheppard Avenue and Weston Road. Emergency crews were called for shots heard in a residential building at 3101 Weston Road shortly before 11 p.m. They found a male victim suffering from gunshot wounds to the upper body. He was taken to a trauma centre.

Mayor John Tory says notwithstanding these recent events, Toronto remains one of the safest cities in the world. (Michael Charles Cole/CBC)

Police officers 'doing a great job'

In spite of the recent violence, police officers are "doing a great job," Tory said.

"It's a difficult job, it's a complex job and we're going to redouble our efforts."

The mayor said he is determined to make sure that people can go in any part of the city and feel comfortable doing so.

"I am taking all the steps now that you would expect me to take, that people would expect me to take, to sit down with all the relevant people starting with the police and working through other organizations to make sure that Toronto stays what it is, which is a safe city, one of the safest in the world and I think we can keep it that way notwithstanding these recent events," Tory added.

With files from Makda Ghebreslassie