The Toronto Police Service’s plan to install new CCTV security cameras in publicly owned parts of the Jane and Finch neighbourhood has angered local activists.
The planned addition of cameras comes following TPS intelligence from local police departments, city hall, and community partners that claim some residents believe more security cameras would make the community safer. That intel also came in part from a meeting, open to members of the Jane and Finch community.
Paul Nyungen, founder of a Jane and Finch area online news site, JANEFINCH.com says that, despite an otherwise positive working relationship with the local 31 Division, he was not made aware of the meetings.
“Due to the historical friction and distrust from some community members,” Paul says, “it is not easy to bring everyone together. Since this issue is being highlighted in the media now, I hope TPS will continue to engage with residents who may not have been previously heard.”
That historical friction comes from one of the highest crime rates in the city, according to the Toronto Police Service Public Safety Data Portal. 31 Division, which sits in the centre of the Jane and Finch Area, reported an average of one violent assault per 100 people per year over the past six years.
Nyungen believes that gun and gang violence in the Jane and Finch neighbourhood needs to be addressed collaboratively, with effort from members of the police service, and members of the community. He says: “Gun violence should be stopped at the root of the problem. A camera will not stop it.”
However, Connie Osborne, media relations officer for the Toronto Police Service, said in a statement over email that the cameras will only be put up in especially violent areas, with a specific focus on gun crime.
“Our officers, within an identified area, consult in advance with stakeholders and community members though face-to-face engagement and notifications, to advise on plans for installation and gather feedback,” says Osborne.
When asked how TPS responds to community members upset by the enhanced surveillance, Osborne says that these cameras are a direct response to a period of increased gang activity, and are only put up in the interest of public safety.