Quiet summer for East Scarborough

Forget another “summer of the gun,” the past few months have, relatively speaking, been more like the “summer of peace and quiet” in east Scarborough.

And a close look at shooting and homicide numbers so far in 2007 shows that while many people may still see Scarborough as the home of violent crime, the statistics don’t bear it out.

For example:

Of 96 shootings so far in Toronto, 24 have been in Scarborough, putting the east end third of four geographic areas behind the west end (40) and downtown (33). The north end is safest at nine.

In shooting deaths, downtown is far ahead with 17, eight more than the west (nine in total), and nine up on Scarborough (eight overall). The north is safest again at just one.

Of 63 homicides, including shootings, stabbings, blunt objects and other causes, Scarborough leads the way with 18 followed by downtown (17) and the west end (16). The north had 12.

Looking at the summer itself, between May and August only seven of 37 homicides were east of Markham Road.

Local residents are noticing.

“I’m used to hearing about something happening every few weeks,” said Sera Thomas a young adult who has lived in the Morningside and Sheppard avenues area all of her life.

“But now that you mention it, it has been a quiet summer. I haven’t heard about too much.”

While Inspector David Brown from 42 Division agrees one homicide is one too many, he attributes the quieter summer to a successful shift in approach.

Specifically, Brown points to the Toronto Anti-Violence Intervention Strategy (TAVIS) program aimed at stopping crimes before they start by implementing closed-circuit television cameras and increasing police presence in troubled areas.

“I think the TAVIS program has a lot to do with it,” Brown said. “Having more police on the streets and a stronger presence in the community is important.”

Violent crime may have also taken a hit as a result of a major ecstasy lab in a residential area of Morningside and Sheppard avenues. Police discovered a home on John Tabor Trail was being used to press and package the small pills to be sold on the street.

“Hopefully the momentum continues,” Thomas said.