Fighting Youth Violence
I noted with interest yesterday the responses of Mayor Rob Ford, Police Chief Bill Blair, Premier Kathleen Wynne and others about the fact that 4 kids have been shot to death in the GTA in the last 4 weeks, 4 good kids, not known to be trouble makers or gang members. A 9-year-old, three 15-year-olds.
It seems to me that all of our agencies are not working together.
Don't get me wrong there are programs in place aimed at curbing violence at all levels. What we seem to lack is one comprehensive strategy where all of these resources could be pooled. Where all of the organizations are moving in lock step, each knowing what the other is doing.
City Councillor Josh Matlow is trying to get something going in that regard and I would hope the Mayor and city council would at least hear him out because we already have a blueprint from the '08 report on the Root Causes of Violence done by Roy McMurtry and Alvin Curling.
I went searching the web last night trying to find how other jurisdictions were handling the killing of their kids and it wasn't long before I came upon an initiative from the Mayor of San Francisco. He calls it his "IPO" - the acronym for Interrupt, Predict and Organize. There are short term, mid-term and long term stragegies in this package.
Some of the highlights: supplying police in the field with web-based real-time information so they can be immediately deployed to areas where crimes are most likely to occur, and the sooner the better.
The Probation Department works with the Criminal Justice sector and Public health to collectively provide criminals who have served their time with ways to change their lives, what one official described as creating "a continuum of employment, education and housing and mental health issues" that could help people break-free from violence and long-term criminal behaviour.
They plan to offer better Gun Buy Back programs, beef up gang enforcement interventions, including more ceasefire meetings between gang leaders.
I don't know if it's the solution here in Toronto but it's worth looking at.
The only way we are going to get a measure of control over this is if all the partners are engaged and working as a team, not individual groups doing their own thing.
I would say to Mayor Rob Ford, you do some great things as an individual working with kids as citizen Rob Ford. Now its time to step up as the Mayor of this city, take the bull by the horns and wrestle this youth violence to the ground. It's not good enough, not acceptable to hear you say.