Police sweep aims to stomp out gun violence and give Toronto a 'peaceful summer'
Project Red Brick focuses on seizing guns and ammo throughout downtown core
In one Regent Park home, Toronto police say they found:
- A loaded sawed-off shotgun
- Two rifles equipped with scopes
- Dozens of boxes full to the brim with various types of ammunition
It's just a portion of what police seized on Saturday night as part of a new initiative called Project Red Brick, which aims to stomp out increasing levels of gun violence in Toronto's downtown core.
"There is definitely an increased level of gun violence as compared to last year," said Supt. Tony Riviere of 51 Division.
"It's of concern to us."
The warrants executed this weekend came just one day after the project's launch and resulted in the arrest of four people, including two youth.
"It's significant because of the type of weapons that were located and the potential to cause damage to members of the community," Riviere said.
The four people were jointly charged with seven firearm and weapon-related charges as well as marijuana possession.
Project crosses division borders
Initiatives like Project Red Brick are typically launched by police every year around this time, but Riviere calls this one "multifaceted in design" because its span reaches across the borders several downtown divisions — 14, 51, 52, as well as 55 Division in the east.
Additional officers will be deployed onto the streets of these neighbourhoods, both in uniform and plain clothes, Riviere says.
"We're looking at the behaviour that's been exhibited through the downtown core and trying to come up with a way of stymieing and suppressing that type of behaviour to ensure that we have a peaceful summer," Riviere said.
Since the arrests on Saturday, 51 Division officers have seized two more firearms under Red Brick's umbrella.
Riviere can't say whether he expects to see more arrests and seizures in the near future, but he says he certainly hopes the effort will keep the trend of the recent violence in check.
'You feel life in this neighbourhood,' says resident
Sureya Ibrahim, a community relations specialist at Regent Park's Centre for Community Learning and Development, has lived in the area for 20 years. On a bustling Tuesday afternoon she was busy helping set up an outdoor pop-up market.
"You feel life in this neighbourhood, there's a lot of things happening," she said.
Ibrahim says she's already noticing the beefed up police presence.
"It was a little bit rough last year, but they're on it right now," she says of the police, explaining that better lighting has been added to outdoor public areas as well, which helps people feel "more comfortable going around."