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‘We’re flabbergasted!’: Residents of west-end community oppose closing 12 Division

Larry Colle is “flabbergasted” that a task force wants to shutter what he calls “a model of community policing.”

Colle was one of several residents who attended a community meeting Tuesday night with Chief Mark Saunders and Toronto Police Services Board Chair Andy Pringle.

His neighbourhood is served by officers of 12 Division, which is located on the southwest corner of Black Creek Drive and Trethewey Drive, just north of Eglinton Avenue West.

The proposal to close the station is part of a report released in June on the future of the Toronto Police Service. It was drawn up by a high-profile task force struck by Toronto Mayor John Tory.

“We’re a needy, poor area,” Colle told Saunders at the meeting held at the Learning Enrichment Foundation in the Black Creek Road and Eglinton Avenue West area. “Many of us work with the marginalized and disadvantaged and we’re concerned about the possibility of losing this community safety hub.

“The model of community policing is in 12 Division,” he added. “They work with 12 to 15 community groups, they do every sort of program, they work with every school in the area.”

In an interview with CBC News, Colle said that 12 Division is “a model police station so we’re flabbergasted. I don’t understand why they can’t see that community policing already works here. The police raise funds for poor groups, they organize coat drives, they work with parent councils and schools, and they have monthly meetings [at the station].”

Andy Pringle and Mark Saunders

Toronto Police Services Board Chair Andy Pringle and Chief Mark Saunders hosted the fourth community consultation session on the modernization of the Toronto Police Service Tuesday night. (CBC)

Saunders told the gathering that putting more police officers in an area many say suffers from high crime “may not be the right answer right now.”

He said advances in technology are shaping modern policing.

“The stations were the central hub for distribution of information,” Saunders said. “That’s not necessarily the case anymore. A physical building plays a role in policing but that footprint doesn’t need to be as big as it is.”

“With digital processing, I can have smaller desks, I don’t need a 60,000-square-foot building,” he said. “It allows me to put divisions in more smaller locations and still deliver policing that’s better than 30 years ago.”

Roshan Ahmed told the meeting she heard gunshots in her neighbourhood at around 9:45 p.m. Monday.

She pleaded with Saunders not to close 12 Division.

Roshan Ahmed

“Please don’t close our police station. We need it,” Roshan Ahmed asked Chief Mark Saunders at a community meeting Tuesday night. (CBC)

“Please don’t close our police station. We need it,” she said. “There’s a lot of crime in the neighbourhood.”

In an interview with CBC News, Ahmed said she’s “not scared, but concerned about 12 Division closing.”

“I think it’s a done deal and the community is speaking up,” she said. “Perhaps there’s a chance they won’t close it. I think the physical presence, it’s worth it for our community.”

Colle says that the riding is the second poorest in Ontario.

“The poor in this neighbourhood are asking, ‘Why is it always us they go after?’ We just can’t take it anymore.”

CBC | Toronto News

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