Pubdate: Fri, 21 Oct 2005 Source: Bloor West Villager (CN ON) Copyright: 2005 Bloor West Villager Contact: http://www.insidetoronto.ca/to/bloorw/ Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/2220 Author: Lisa Rainford COCAINE USERS A PLAGUE, SAY RESIDENTS Although the number of drug charges laid in Toronto is down 14 per cent since last year residents in the Perth and Symington avenues area say they are still plagued by the problem of cocaine users. Only a small number of community members turned out to a town hall meeting hosted by 11 Division police officers Tuesday night at Bishop Marrocco/Thomas Merton Catholic Secondary School, but they came with big complaints. Homeowner James Vail said he is at his wit's end with the drug problem and is ready to move out of the neighbourhood because he is so frustrated by the lack of police response. He remained unimpressed when Staff Sgt. Jamal Khan of the Community Response Unit told him that he was aware of the issues and that several arrests have been made. "As a result of the safety audit conducted in July, addresses were checked and arrests were made," said Khan. One of Vail's neighbours, who also attended the meeting, said she has noticed an improvement since the summer, but the problems still persist. "I still find crack pipes on my property," she told police. "There's been a huge amount of car break-ins, one on my property." Unit Commander Brody Smollet says one of the main problems in his division is theft - both breaking and entering and car burglaries - and that drugs fuel a great deal of this crime activity. "One of the biggest offences in our division is break and enters because it is an area primarily of residential dwellings," he said. "Fortunately, this year our break and enter numbers are down from 2004 about 25 per cent." Gun violence is very prevalent in the news lately and it concerns all police officers, Smollet said. "We don't have the same issues as Scarborough, but they are here," he said. "We've seized 55 weapons - firearms - so far this year. This is not a lot compared to the rest of the city." So far this year, three hate crimes have been committed within the division, one occurring earlier this week that started out on the subway and ended up in the division, Smollet said. One resident asked why cameras couldn't be installed on streets. "Like in England," she said. "Police can't be everywhere. This way you have a picture of these individuals." Close circuit TV is being debated in Canada, said Smollet, but the issue of privacy is a concern as is the cost of installing the cameras and hiring people to monitor them. They are out there already in banks, stores and ATMs. "In England it seems to be working on the surface. I don't know if we're there yet," he said. Representatives from the Bloor by the Park Business Improvement Area voiced their concerns for the growing graffiti problem. They said they were afraid that with graffiti comes gang activity. "Ninety-nine per cent of it has nothing to do with gangs. It is individuals. They want to be noticed in their own society," Smollet said. 11 Division has an officer in charge of helping with graffiti removal, he said. Hilary Bell, a spokesperson for the Dundas West Residents' Association, said an issue that arises among the residential group is speeding on Keele Street and Dundas Street West. Traffic Sgt. Inkerie McCormack said officers patrol Keele between Bloor Street West and Dundas Street three to four times a week, in part because there are school zones in those areas. "We do try to get out during rush hours and when kids get out of school," she said.