©2019 by the Toronto Police Service

40 College Street

Toronto, Ontario M5G 2J3

#TorontoGangPrevention

Search
  • Ron Chhinzer

GANG PREVENTION TOWN HALL RECAP 3 of 31

Thursday - September 11th, 2019 @ Regent Park Community Centre

41 Participants




BACKGROUND

For the background information on our #GangPrevention Town Halls, please click this LINK.



INSIGHTS GAINED

During our #GangPrevention Town Halls, we provide an opportunity for the participants to be able to openly discuss and voice their experiences, insights, and opinions on their interactions and perspectives on gangs and #GangPrevention.


In those conversations, we ensure that the participants will be afforded a level of anonymity and confidentiality with the intent on having true and open conversations to gather an understanding of what may be occurring at the community level with respect of the gang impact.


Below is a general list of the insights gained during this #GangPrevention Town Hall. Please note that the information may have been adjusted to protect the identity or source of the information, but the content messaging has been kept as accurate as possible.


COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT

  • To better engage community members to participate in government run events and/or Town Halls, participants advise that utilizing local community leaders to advocate and advertise the events in the future.

  • Some of the participants advised that some gang impacted families might feel shame in attending a #GangPrevention Town Hall. The shame may stem from having family members that are gang involved and having to face the rest of their community. Because of that potential shame, the family members that may benefit the most from our #GangPrevention Town Halls may not attend.

  • Some of the participants advised that engaging the staff members at the Regent Park Community Recreation Centre would have been an effective way of engaging youth and their families to attend.

  • Some participants advised that utilizing social media platforms are an effective form of advertising and marketing, as well as providing a notice well in advance.

  • Some participants advised that were nervous in attending the #GangPrevention Town Hall as they weren't fully aware of who the attendants were going to be. Some participants advised that there would have been some levels of anxiety were around feeling as though some of the attendees were potentially going to be gang members or, as described, "trouble makers".

  • Some participants advised that it is difficult for parents with young children to transport their children to an event outside of their residence during a weekday. Some parents advised that they're mentally and physically exhausted at the end of their day and any motivation to want to attend any extra functions is little to non-existent. A conversation ensued surrounding any potential way to bring future events to individual buildings.

  • Some participants advised that bringing information directly into the residence space of community members would be more effective rather than expecting them to come to another physical location (regardless of proximity).

  • Some participants advised that providing food, an honorarium, and/or childcare would have potentially increased the potential turnout of community members.


FEELINGS OF DISTRUST

  • Participants advised that there was a different level of distrust within the community that starts at home. Participants advised that a 15 year old youth was murdered within their community and even though other community members may know who is responsible for the murder, no one has come forward to speak to the Mother or family of the murdered youth. As a result, for some people within the community, the distrust starts within their neighbourhood and is expanded on to every interaction they have after that.

  • Some participants advised that they feel as thought they're discriminated against by various government agencies (provincial services, municipal services, local business organizations, etc.) based on being residents of community housing. One participant advised that there is a perspective that there are two different types of people in their community - "housing" people and "condo" people. This perception of divide occurred during the gentrification process of Regent Park and some participants who resided within housing echoed those sentiments.

  • Some participants advised that often times, they will go years without having a venue to be able to speak about their concerns to agencies or organizations that they feel can be impactful in arranging for care or services.

GANG IMPACTS AND POTENTIAL SOLUTIONS WITHIN THE COMMUNITY

  • Participants advised that some of the at risk youth in the community have "nothing to do" and as result, loiter, cause minor disruptions within community housing, and participate in some levels of property damage and vandalism.

  • Participants advised that while there is a plethora of community leaders, there are some levels of integration issues or potential competing interests that may cause disruptions towards seeking success in common goals.

  • Participants advised that a more constant and engaging police presence (outside of responding to criminal incidents) with children in the community would boost police-community relations immensely as the parents of the children would appreciate role models outside of the gangs within their neighbourhood.

  • Participants advised that in some cases, there are victims of crimes that never get named within various media. In particular, participants addressed that while there are shooting victims, these victims don't get enough attention as victims of homicides as a result of shooting. A conversation ensued in regards to the importance of highlighting the important of zero-tolerance for any level of gun and firearm related crime, regardless of the status of the victim.

  • Participants advised that youth within their community need to be positively engaged by everyone within the community at all times - including community members, law enforcement, and other social service agency staff that may be in and around their community on a daily basis.

  • A community member stated that, "we are not under serviced, we are poorly serviced". There was agreement among all of the participants who expanded further, stating that the timing of services offered was not optimal to when it would be required or needed (ie. social service agencies geared towards youth closing at 4:30 PM on a weekday, social service staff refusing to participate in any level of care that is outside of their specific scope as it doesn't fall under their funding guideline, no websites or phone numbers for certain agencies to contact after hours if need-be, etc.).

POLICE RELATIONS

  • Participants advise that, in some cases, they don't feel as though their concerns are being taken seriously by the police. To build stronger relationships, participants advised that they respond well to professional, articulate, and respectful police officers - regardless of what type of interaction is occurring. Participants further advised that they would be more willing to provide information to police as a witness to a crime if they had a trusting relationship with individual officers.

  • Participants advised of a level of excitement in regards to the Neighbourhood Officers and their direct involvement within their community.

  • Participants advised that a more constant and engaging police presence (outside of responding to criminal incidents) with children in the community would boost police-community relations immensely as the parents of the children would appreciate role models outside of the gangs within their neighbourhood.

  • Participants advised that some of them had a strong and positive connection to their local community officers that are transitioning into the Neighbourhood Officer program.


HOUSING ISSUES


  • Some participants advised that they feel as thought they're discriminated against by various government agencies (provincial services, municipal services, local business organizations, etc.) based on being residents of community housing. One participant advised that there is a perspective that there are two different types of people in their community - "housing" people and "condo" people. This perception of divide occurred during the gentrification process of Regent Park and some participants who resided within housing echoed those sentiments.

  • The participants advised that there must be more of a integration effort made towards both those community housing residents that are being displaced and those communities that are receiving them in efforts of reducing the potential anxiety between adults, families, and youth, as rival gangs may now reside within the same building.

  • Participants advise that they would prefer an easier method of having their needs met, especially when they're impacted by crimes (ie. being able to transition out of one housing neighbourhood into another, being notified of displaced housing tenants from other gentrified communities into their community).


HOW OPPORTUNITIES CAN BE PRESENTED TO THE YOUTH WITHIN THE COMMUNITY


  • Participants advised that they were excited and welcoming to the idea of having Neighbourhood Officers embedded within their community and that they may be used as positive mentors for youth that reside within their community, especially to those who need it.

  • Participants advised that youth within their community need to be positively engaged by everyone within the community at all times - including community members, law enforcement, and other social service agency staff that may be in and around their community on a daily basis.



TOWN HALL BEST PRACTICES


  • Utilizing the first 30 - 45 minutes to get to know each of the participants provided top be a valuable exercise as it allowed us to gather a better understanding of each participants perspective and reason for attending the #GangPrevention Town Hall.

  • Utilizing the first 30 - 45 minutes to locate participants who were in the vicinity (parents, families with their children, local businesses, etc.) who were previously unaware of the event resulted in several additional and valued participants.

  • Utilizing a moderated Q&A to the participants encouraged a high level of positive engagement. Our moderated Q&A only had two requirements, 1) we stay solutions focused, and 2) we utilize "I" statements to avoid potential conflicts within the Town Hall. This method was well received.

  • Providing food, snacks, water, and coffee were well received.

  • Outlining the itinerary and advising participants that they would have an opportunity to voice their concerns with a level of protection and anonymity encouraged honest and open discussions.

  • There were no uniformed police officers at this Town Hall.



LESSONS LEARNED


  • We had utilized various forms of engagement and outreach (social media posts, door-to-door flyers, posters within the Regent Park Community Centre, and personal engagement and invitations). Posters proved to be an effective method of outreach. The majority of participants had attended because of either posters or social media posts that they came across. Some participants attended after hearing of the #GangPrevention Town Halls through a word-of-mouth from their associates or friends.

  • The participants of this Town Hall were not negatively impacted by the number of uniform officers at this particular event (two of them).

  • The participants advised that they were very much appreciative of the lack of media, politicians, and senior officials at the event and that it felt genuine - and not a photo opportunity.

  • The participants advised that the moderated Q&A was worthwhile and the most valuable portion of the Q&A once they understood our #GangPrevention framework and our vision going forward.

  • The participants stated that utilizing a door-to-door and flyer method would have an effective method of advertising the #GangPrevention Town Hall.



IMPROVEMENTS GOING FORWARD


  • We will be adjusting our advertising and outreach strategy going forward to the next Town Halls.

  • Media, politicians, and organizational leaders will be held back going forward to determine the best course of integration without compromising the trust in the participants of the #GangPrevention Town Halls.

  • Outreach strategies to include schools and local agencies will be increased to maximize attendance and input from the impacted communities.

  • There will continue to be no uniform police presence at these events as it greatly speeds up trust and relationship building to those that advised they had some levels of anxiety when being in a room with a uniformed officer. It should be noted that the participants were aware that there were several police officers within the event, however, none of the participants had any issue with them being there. Their anxieties stemmed around a police uniform, not the police personnel.

  • The material being presented will be adjusted according to some of the feedback gained from #GangPrevention Town Hall.

  • Door-to-door canvassing and flyer distribution may be re-included in the upcoming #GangPrevention Town Halls.





gangprevention@torontopolice.on.ca

15 views
  • Twitter - White Circle
  • White Instagram Icon