New website asks public for help in finding Canada's most wanted
Toronto police using new online tool known as Bolo program to push info about alleged criminals
Toronto police want people to help them catch Canada's most wanted suspects by scrolling through photos on a website, reading case summaries and reporting sightings of fugitives online.
Det.-Sgt. Stacy Gallant, of the Toronto police, said police have set up a pilot project with what is known as Bolo program, an online tool that collects information on outstanding arrest warrants and provides channels for people to report sightings of fugitives.
The program involves a website that displays wanted posters with images of the suspects believed to be on the run for serious crimes, including murder.
"Members of the public are the eye and ears of their communities and often have valuable information that can help capture people that are wanted on these outstanding warrants," Gallant said.
"It's not fair that these people can continue to live in our communities and not be held to account for their actions."
The Bolo program is the brainchild of Stephan Crétier, the founder of GardaWorld Security Corporation, a private security company.
There's also information about where the suspects might be hiding and quick links for people to report any sightings.
A social media blitz of wanted posters
The wanted profiles will be blasted out on social media through promoted Tweets and Facebook posts.
Maxime Langois, spokesperson for the Stephan Crétier Foundation, said: "We only launch amplification campaigns once we have the full authorization and cooperation from the police service.
"What we do then is take the information that's already publicly available on a case we package it then we boost it to unprecedented levels."
As head of the Toronto police's cold case unit, Gallant hopes the extra social media attention will keep these cases fresh.
"We have our police website that has our most wanted on there for murders. But our problem is reaching the greater masses. We don't have the amount of people that the Bolo program can reach," he said.
Since 2015, there have been eight outstanding arrest warrants for murder in Toronto and 27 outstanding warrants dating back to 1983.
The site suggests calling the Toronto Police Service non-emergency line, or Crime Stoppers should a tipster want to remain anonymous.
Pilot project already generating tips
Despite only being in its pilot phase, Gallant said tips have already been trickling in. He called the number promising.
"All we're looking for is that one tip that's going to lead to the arrest of one of these individuals that's wanted," Gallant said.
One for Alexander Fountain, wanted for the 2017 shooting death of Samatar Omar Farah, 24, in Scarborough.
The other for Tommy Ngo, wanted for the 2015 stabbing of Russell Sahadeo, 23, in the Jane and Scarlett Road area.
In the coming weeks, Langois said the Bolo program is working to add several more profiles of accused people wanted for other major crimes, including sexual assault and crimes against children.
Visitors warned against approaching suspects
There are explicit warnings throughout the website that urge people to report through the given channels and not to approach the accused in person.
"Warning, Take no action to apprehend this person yourself. This suspect may be armed and dangerous," its reads, in an effort not to promote vigilantism.
With files from Ali Chiasson