Pubdate: Sun, 13 Mar 2016
Source: Toronto Sun (CN ON)
Copyright: 2016 Canoe Limited Partnership
Author: Jenny Yuen
Page: 3


Plan May Need Boost in Police Presence, Cop Association Boss Says

Neighbourhoods that end up with supervised drug-injection sites may 
need more cops, the head of Toronto's police union warned.

Toronto's chief medical officer of health, Dr. David McKeown, is 
expected to release a report Monday on drug injection sites.

A source confirmed McKeown will recommend a pilot project of three to 
five supervised drug-injection sites in the city.

Toronto Public Health refused to discuss the pilot project and said 
McKeown was unavailable for an interview.

As Toronto prepares to delve into the supervised drug injection site 
debate, Toronto Police Association president Mike McCormack argued 
that more officers may be the only way to keep crime down around the sites.

"What they've found in Vancouver is a correlation of increased drug 
trafficking and those types of crimes around those centres," 
McCormack said Saturday. "We're going through this transformational 
change discussion with policing and doing it with less police 
officers and these types of initiatives put a further demand on 
policing resources."

McCormack suggests the reduction of crime near Vancouver's Insite 
program was due to "an influx" of neighbourhood police officers.

"We just want to make sure they're thought out properly and that we 
look at all the impacts," he said. "I understand the need from a 
health perspective to deal with people who have these issues, but I 
have to look at what the plan is before I can fully comment."

According to a source, McKeown is pushing the city to open 
safe-injection sites after the number of Toronto's overdose deaths 
hit 206 in 2013 - a 41% increase over 10 years.

The sites may be housed in existing health clinics that already 
provide harm-reduction programs, such as clean needle exchanges.

Currently, there are 41 sites across the city offering other 
harm-reduction services, according to Toronto Public Health.

"It is an astounding and painfully deadly number," said Councillor 
Joe Cressy, chairman of the Toronto Drug Strategy, adding that he 
wasn't willing to comment on specifics of McKeown's report. "All the 
research has shown supervised injection services improve public 
health and public safety by reducing the number of deaths in overdose 
as well as reducing the harms associated by injection-based drug-use, 
such as transmission of HIV and hepatitis C."

Cressy said these supervised injection sites increase public safety 
by taking the needles and drug use off the streets, out of "laneways 
and coffee shops" and "into a safe environment."

Board of Health chairman Joe Mihevc predicted a long process before 
these supervised injection sites are launched, including extensive 
public consultation.

"There's a city approval process and there's provincial funding and 
the federal government has to do its due diligence," Mihevc said.

Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders has met with city officials 
regarding safe injection sites, but "he needs to see the specifics" 
of how the initiative would be implemented before sharing his 
thoughts on the issue, spokesman Mark Pugash said Saturday.

"The chief wants to see the details before he comments," Pugash said. 
"Until he sees the nuts and bolts, he's not commenting."

Mayor John Tory's office said Tory "will review the report carefully" 
once it's released.

- - With files from Chris Doucette
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom