In Toronto Police 31 Division — where one gang involved in this week’s Front St. W. shootout is from — they call it the Cops and Kids program.
In 12 Division, home to the other, it’s known as the Kicks for Kids program.
In case no one knows, both divisions participate in breakfast, after-school and mentoring programs.
“There’s amazing things going on,” said Staff-Insp. Mike Earl.
Cops care and those who take part in youth projects, he said, get as much out of it as the kids.
So when you have 17-year-olds involved in shootings and kidnappings, it’s disheartening. After a wild gun battle in a Front St. W. condo this week, two 17-year-old boys were kidnapped, tortured and sexually abused, according to police.
“For some of them the allure of the gangs is strong,” said Earl.
He has spent a career busting armed gangsters and robbers and has seen the participants — and their victims — getting younger and younger.
Not even a year has passed since 14-year-old Lecent Ross was shot — July 9, 2015 — on Jamestown Cres. in 23 Division. A 13-year-old was charged with manslaughter.
Just recently, a 17-year-old ran from police after boasting about having a gun right in the heart of Yonge-Dundas Square.
Just days before this week’s brazen condo shootout, there was another police call for a teen with a gun at Yonge and Gerrard Sts.
We haven’t forgot the execution-style shooting near the Toronto Library on Yonge or any of the 16 shooting homicides in 2016.
“People are more openly carrying guns,” said Earl.
When they do, people can end up dead. The statistics this year on shooting violence are way up and alarming.
Of course, this is not a new story. But if police officers are saying one of the reasons for the spike is because they can no longer effectively engage people, or check them for conditions without being called names or face official complaints, there should be people in power who at least give them an ear and listen. The victims deserve that.
Remember, these are the same cops playing soccer with the kids and making sure they get breakfast, too.
The tweet of the week came Tuesday from Hamilton Councillor Matthew Green.
“For those of you who think police carding is over. I was just arbitrarily stopped/questioned by @HamiltonPolice as a City Clr in my own city.”
It sparked a Twitter storm.
And there’s the street checks and carding debate. Two sides. Two views. Zero answers.
Hamilton Police said having an official complaint investigated by an outside body is the best way to go.
Green, who is Hamilton’s first black city councillor, said Friday: “I’ve lodged my complaint with the (Office of the Independent Police Review Director) and will await the process to proceed from there.”
He has told many media outlets this week a Hamilton officer “repeatedly questioned” him and acted in an “intimidating manner” even though he “was not a suspect in any crime nor involved in criminal activity.”
I would love to hear the copper’s side as well.
I have a difficult time believing officers in today’s climate are overtly racist because somebody says they are but I am prepared to review the evidence because I’m willing to listen to good citizens like Green.
No one should be racially profiled. But no police officer should be marginalized or maligned for doing his or her job, either.
If you want to help out the victims of the 7.8 Ecuador earthquake, my friend, Councillor Cesar Palacio tells of a fundraiser.
It’s organized by the Ecuadorian embassy and will include Latin music and food on Sunday for $20 at the Gerry Gallagher Hall, 1263 Wilson Ave.
And they do need help.
The devastating quake hit several towns in Manabi — a seaside western Ecuadorian province — killing hundreds of people and injuring thousands more.
Initially, the cost of the damage was pegged at a whopping $3 billion. Ecuador requires the world’s help in building its ravaged cities.
In an unrelated effort, my pal Justin “Shaker” Van Dette tells me “Ken Reid and Evanka Osmak and Tim & Sid have come together to organize a ‘Take me out to the ball game’ event” Sunday in support of mental health at Michael Garron Hospital — formerly known as Toronto East General Hospital. It takes place at the The Duke, 1225 Queen Street E., from noon-4 p.m.
“Watch the game and take part in a Q&A panel with these fine hosts from Sportsnet.”
He has lived in what I can attest seems like the wild west while in Afghanistan. Now James Akam is living in Canada’s west.
And loving it.
“It’s fantastic,” he told me of his first week in Calgary. “Very friendly.”
He drove across country with brother Nick and even stopped at the Terry Fox monument near Thunder Bay. As soon as he got to Cowtown (is it politically correct to call it that?), he was bestowed with Calgary’s highest honour of being white hatted.
Cowboy hat that is. Cowperson hat?
The white hat came from fellow Afghan interpreters to the Canadian troops who now call Calgary home.
“It was pretty special,” said James.
Next, he hopes to get his family out of Afghanistan and that could take months. I encourage Canadian immigration officials hasten the pace for getting his little boy and wife out of the crosshairs of ISIS and the Taliban.
Same goes on helping the remaining interpreters hiding in Afghanistan.
Have a great weekend everybody.