More Police Officers are Coming to Mississauga's Streets
If you’ve noticed a rise in crime in Mississauga, you’re not alone.
In response to decreased feelings of community safety, Peel Regional Council has voted unanimously to increase police presence on the streets of Brampton and Mississauga.
The motion was brought to Council on Sept. 13 by Brampton’s Mayor Linda Jeffrey, and seconded by Mississauga’s Mayor Bonnie Crombie.
Though Peel Regional Police Chief Jennifer Evans was not present at the meeting, there was much talk of the 2019 Peel police budget.
According to Jeffrey, additional staff is necessary, and that should be reflected in the 2019 budget.
“Based on the number of calls that I get […] I’m really still concerned about that fact that I’m not sure our force has sufficient funding to support our frontline policing efforts,” said Jeffrey.
“I know it’s a complex issue,” she added, noting that there are several layers to the increase in crime in Peel.
That includes supporting vulnerable youth, and ultimately, stopping crime before it happens.
Jeffrey said that there are 137.9 police officers per 100,000 people in Peel Region, and that gap will only get wider as the Region’s population grows.
It’s true that the United Way Greater Toronto has pledged $1.94 million for youth programming, which Jeffrey said could help the problem.
“In July, [some members of Council] had an electronic conversation amongst ourselves about crime in Peel,” Jeffrey said.
“I think we all felt that alarm going on and the need for action.”
Jeffrey noted that in a recent conversation with the new provincial minister of community safety and correctional services, Michael Tibollo, not even Tibollo “felt safe” on a ridealong with Peel police in Brampton.
According to Jeffrey, though more town halls and discussion were promised earlier in the summer surrounding this issue, no town halls or further discussion have been booked for September.
But conversations are brewing in Mississauga for October, according to Crombie.
Crombie said that though there has been an 11 per cent increase in crime across the Region, there was not a large percentage increase in Mississauga.
“Yes, there has been a rise in the incidents and the numbers of crime this summer,” said Crombie.
“Thankfully it seems to have stabilized.”
According to Crombie, a summit is in the works with Chief Evans for sometime in October, where stakeholders and councillors will be able to come together and discuss crime in Peel Region.
Though both Mayors support more officers on Peel’s streets, several councillors had heavy criticism for the motion.
According to Mississauga’s Ward 9 Councillor Pat Saito, previous funding for more officers from the province “disappeared” just a few years after it was initially promised.
“We were scrambling to keep those officers,” said Saito.
According to Saito, both Council and the Peel Police Services Board have been asked whether more officers are necessary.
“Very rarely have we gotten the response that, yes, we want more than we approved at the police services board,” said Saito.
Saito said that adding more officers might not actually make a difference in the crime rate.
“If you bring in another 100 officers, when it’s spread out over the shifts, over the divisions, the actual number on the streets at any time is not 100 officers,” said Saito.
Ultimately, she said that more officers “probably will not make a huge dent in preventing those violent crimes.”
A decrease in street checks and a lack of room at police colleges to train more officers is what concerned Brampton’s Wards 7 and 8 Councillor Gael Miles.
“We have more weapons and guns on our streets today than we’ve had before and we better find out what we’re going to do about it,” said Miles.
Brampton’s Wards 9 and 10 Councillor - and mayoral candidate - John Sprovieri agreed with Miles.
Sprovieri noted that the City of Toronto has a higher ratio of officers per capita than Peel Region.
“Are the shootings less there?” said Sprovieri.
“Well, they’re just as bad, and maybe worse, even though they have more police.”
Sprovieri attributed many of Peel’s crimes to “gang warfare” and drug trafficking. But, according to Sprovieri, crime in Peel is rooted deeper than the number of police on the streets.
“The problem is [officers] put [criminals] in jail for awhile and then they’re on the street again,” said Sprovieri.
“We need the police to tell us what they need.”
“Throwing more money and more officers to the police force isn’t going to solve the problem,” he said.
While the motion did pass, many councillors agreed that it’s up to Chief Evans and the police services board to incorporate these requirements into their 2019 budget.
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