Pubdate: Tue, 24 Jul 2007
Source: Expositor, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2007 The Brantford Expositor
Author: Vincent Ball


The province will spend $1.26 million to help police in Brantford and 
three other municipalities combat guns, gangs and illegal drugs.

The money, announced Monday, will be used to establish a joint-forces 
operation that includes Halton, Hamilton and Niagara.

"This is an intelligence initiative," said city police Chief Derek 
McElveny, who joined Community Safety and Correctional Services 
Minister Monte Kwinter for the announcement at the Elgin Street police station.

"This will help us better recognize who is involved in these types of 
activities, where they are operating and when they're coming into town."

The joint forces unit will include a crime analyst, as well as police 
officers from all four jurisdictions, including two from Brantford. 
Representatives will meet in early August to formalize plans.

The initiative is part of the province's anti-violence intervention 
strategy, which targets communities confronted by increased gang and 
gun-related activity, Kwinter said.

"Guns, gangs and illegal drugs have no place in our communities," he 
said. "We will continue to work with our policing partners to rid 
Ontario of drug labs and grow operations and to protect our citizens."

Efforts to combat gun and gang crime in Toronto have squeezed some 
crooks out of the Greater Toronto Area into some of the smaller 
communities, including Brantford, Hamilton, Niagara and Halton. As a 
result some communities have seen increases in violent crime.

During what's been dubbed the "weekend of violence" in November 2005, 
city police, in a 24-hour period, were confronted with six incidents 
involving weapons and armed robberies of citizens and cab drivers. 
Several people with Toronto addresses were arrested in connection 
with those incidents.

"When we had that weekend of violence, we arrested several people, 
most of whom were from out of town," McElveny said. "But what if we 
hadn't made those arrests.

"How would we have followed up on something like that if they had 
managed to get out of town before we caught them?"

McElveny said that those investigations would have been extremely 
complicated and costly had the culprits made it out of the city.

In the past couple of years, city police have responded to numerous 
shootings, including one on Palace Street where a man was shot and 
another incident at a Park Road North home. And, just over a year 
ago, city police seized AK-47 assault rifles, shotguns and handguns 
following a search of a Burwell Street residence.

Monday's funding announcement is part of the provincial government's 
$12-million anti-crime package introduced on June 6.

In addition to targeting guns and gang violence, the package takes 
aim a crystal methamphetamine labs by creating a special team to 
dismantle them. As well, a task force will be created on marijuana 
grow operations.

With respect to guns and gangs, Kwinter said the province has been 
pressing for a handgun ban from the federal government, which so far 
has not shown interest in pursuing the proposal.

Speaking to reporters following his formal remarks, the minister 
noted that an AK-47 was found in the bedroom of a Toronto boy. "How 
does someone 13 years of age get an AK-47?"

Tuesday's announcement included a display of guns and illegal drugs 
recently seized in the city. Included were a pen gun, a pistol with a 
silencer, a sawed-off shotgun and an AK-47.

Brant MPP Dave Levac said that people must realize the problem of 
guns and gangs is everywhere.

"This investment will go a long way to combating the spread of guns 
and gangs in Brantford and Ontario," Levac said. "It sends a clear 
signal that the McGuinty government will not tolerate illegal 
activities anywhere in Ontario."
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MAP posted-by: Beth Wehrman