Police alone can't stop gangs, Toronto Chief Bill Blair says

Two weeks after Toronto was shaken by the largest mass shooting in its history, Police Chief Bill Blair sees the gang violence at its root not as one neighbourhood’s problem but a social issue that demands solutions from Toronto’s business and community leaders.

In a wide-ranging interview with The Globe and Mail Tuesday, Chief Blair said police keep track of people involved in or associated with gangs – roughly 2,100 – and of those about 500 or 600 are considered “really violent.”

The long-term solution, he said, involves preventing these mostly young men from so-called priority neighbourhoods from going down this road by interceding in their lives when they are much younger. That involves continuing to provide opportunities, including employment, but first requires learning “more about these kids and find out where we lost them.”

“By the time you go, with a 14- or 15-year-old, and try to get them into a program and play basketball, some of these young guys are so completely lost to us that they represent such a significant danger, all we can do is protect everyone from them,” Chief Blair said.

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