Who will tackle violent crime in Brampton?

Peel Regional Police - Presentation to Peel Regional Council June 2018

Violent crime in Brampton is up sharply in 2018. Have you noticed? Whether it is increased gun violence, intimate partner incidents, or murder, the trends are going in the wrong direction. Peel Police is our front line defense in responding to violent incidents, but how do we prevent them from happening in the first place?

On Thursday (July 19th), Davion Dawns, a 5 year-old boy was reported missing by his mom and was found a short time later with serious head injuries near a railroad track. By the end of the day, a 28 year-old man, Dyon Smart was charged with attempted murder. Shockingly, Smart was out on bail from a previous attempted murder charge of a 44 year-old man in September 2017. A number of GoFundMe initiatives were started in response, including one by Neighbourhood Watch Brampton.

Peel Police Chief Jennifer Evans received media attention recently after reports claim she links increased violence to restrictions on carding (or street checks as it is called in Peel). Supporters of this idea say that gang members and thugs are now able to carry firearms without fear of being stopped by Police. Critics say that their is no evidence to support the chief’s claims.

At a Townhall Tuesday event discussing Crime and Community Safety on July 10th, family and friends of Alexander Barrett were in attendance. Alexander is the 16 year-old boy who was stabbed multiple times by a “swarm” of 10 to 15 other males near the splash pad at Century Gardens Recreation Centre on Friday, June 22. The audience cheered in support each time the idea was raised of giving police more tools to stop anyone they believe are carrying weapons or “up to no good.”

Recent incidents however involve more primitive weapons. In the murder of 21 year-old Paviter Singh Bassi in March on the grounds of Sandalwood Heights Secondary School, five men in their early 20’s have been accused with beating Bassi to death with sticks. All five men are now back on our streets awaiting trial, with critics blaming a recent Supreme Court ruling making it easier for the accused to receive bail.

As well, 3 Brampton men were swarmed and beaten with sticks near Winston Churchill Boulevard and Steeles Avenue on June 20th over a real estate transaction gone bad. One of the victims is still recovering in hospital. Arrests have been made, however, the main suspect is believed to have fled to India.

And then there is the issue of intimate partner incidents (previously referred to as domestic violence). Chief Evans made the startling revelation in her presentation to Peel Regional Council last month that intimate partner incidents is now the number one call for service to the Police. These are violent incidents happening between family members in their homes. Each incident must be treated seriously and often takes 6 hours of an officer’s time in dealing with each issue and the reporting that must accompany it. This is time and resources not being allocated to other important needs in the community.

Is more policing the solution to lowering incidents of violent crime? Brampton Mayor Linda Jeffrey was a champion of increasing funding to police to hire 37 additional officers during the last Peel Region budget. Yet Peel Police is still significantly under resourced when compared to other big city police forces across the country. During a delegation by MP Ruby Sahota to the Peel Police Services Board in June, Chief Evans responded to the effect that the federal government also has a significant responsibility in keeping criminals off our streets.

The new provincial government under Premier Doug Ford has stated that carding is not coming back to Ontario. Conservative MPP Prabmeet Sarkaria from Brampton South, the Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services made this clear in a tweet on July 19th.

In the coming weeks, we hope that candidates for City Council in the municipal elections in October make community safety a priority. Ask them what their solutions are to reducing crime, reducing poverty, providing opportunities for youth, addressing intimate partner violence, reducing access to guns, addressing the proliferation of gangs, and ending human sex trafficking in our region. Demand that your MP, MPP,  and City Council work together to reduce the violence.

For now, we see minimal action at all levels of government to immediately tackle the increased violence. City Council recently passed a motion to create a “community safety plan” in response to the violence on our streets, however, it has been nearly a month and nothing has been announced on how to move forward. Incidents across the GTA are spiking, with 2 deaths and 12 injured from a shooting incident in Greektown in Toronto on Sunday night.

Share your ideas and solutions with us. Join Neighbourhood Watch Brampton and help us advocate for a safe city. It is a free program that keeps you informed and enables you to get to know your neighbours and tackle problems that matter to you and your family.