We may soon see more cops chasing bad guys on bikes and on foot instead of in cruisers, but a local police awareness group warns that an increased police presence may leave many feeling even more threatened. The goal, the police services board says, is to have a stronger uniformed police presence in 142 neighbourhoods across the city.
But Toronto Police Accountability Coalition member Anna Willats says, "If the plan increases the number of officer-initiated contacts, then that's not going to make youth of colour or people working or living on the street feel any safer."
Police services board vice-chair Pam McConnell says the plan to deploy more cops on bikes and foot patrol "will get more police officers in uniform doing proactive prevention in the community."
She says officers will be assigned to neighbourhoods for two years at a time so they can develop relationships with locals. "Communities want a chief who is committed to community policing," says McConnell.
Willats counters that it's a good start to get officers to know the neighbourhoods they patrol, "but really the goal should be to increase funding for social support and reduce the number of officers."