Weekend rash of violence 'a blip,' Toronto police chief says
Shootings are up, but the city is still safe Chief Mark Saunders tells reporters
The spate of violent crime across the city this weekend is "a blip" with no bearing on Toronto's overall safety and policing record, according to police Chief Mark Saunders.
"It's a blip. We have these blips, we have these weekends," Saunders told reporters on Sunday, referring to the past 48 hours which have seen two double shootings, a fatal drive-by shooting, a police-involved shooting and about half a dozen stabbings.
"This is not the opportunity to say this is the way Toronto is every weekend, but we did have a very busy weekend."
Several hours after the chief spoke, two men were transported to hospital from the Martin Grove Road and Finch Avenue area suffering from gunshot wounds. The call came in shortly after 11 p.m., with both victims transported to a trauma centre.
Saunders said the perpetrators behind such crimes represent less than one per cent of the city's population.
"But still, that less than one per cent can really affect the ... perception of community safety," he said, speaking to reporters at the annual Honest Ed's turkey giveaway.
"When people are afraid to walk in public spaces, that's when we have our concerns, so we have to make sure as law enforcement we do what we can to help keep the city safe."
Saunders conceded that shootings are up in Toronto, but said the rate at which police solve crimes is "significantly higher" than those of comparable cities.
He credits those numbers to what he described as the positive relationship between police and the city's communities.
"The community trusts us by large," he said, which leads to witnesses coming forward.
But more can be done, the chief said, by working more closely with communities.
"We need to fix it from the grassroots," he said.