Connectivity versus crime

We’re told that the crime rate in East York is on the decline. But the drop is mainly in the property crime category — and when it comes to crimes against persons, some categories actually show an increase. Like the homicide rate. And sexual assaults.
The East York community needs to work together to become more active in making the area a safer place for work and play. That means more than just a heightened police presence.
Just ask people who travel on-foot in our community. They feel vulnerable, even afraid. Unfortunately, the real estate affordability of some neighbourhoods seems to go hand-in-hand with heightened anxiety.
Type “East York” into Google News, and your screen will be bombarded by media coverage of attempted murders and break-ins. In many situations, the suspects are still wanted criminals, such as a 25-year-old man accused of attempted murder in a high-rise in the St.Clair-Victoria Park area this past fall.
So how can we make people feel safer in our community?
One way would be through promoting a more visible police presence in specific troubled areas, such as the Victoria Park Avenue and Dawes Road area. Perhaps police could even be assigned to patrol certain small, enclosed public spaces, such as parking garages, TTC stations, or areas with bank machines. Do you ever see police in these spaces? I don’t. So maybe this is a change that should be made.
Beyond this, attacking the root causes of crime is going to have to involve helping people at a young age — by creating community programs to help them better understand how to keep their homes a safe place, along with how to avoid violence and illegal substances.
Personally, I feel the most vulnerable while walking to and from TTC stops, especially at night. Another simple solution to feeling personally insecure while walking alone to catch the bus could be to add more streetlights. Other measures: more security and police around places with nightlife, and more night buses so people don’t have to stand alone outside at late hours. In turn, these problems can be identified by community-requested police audits and lobbying through our city council members.
But ultimately of course, we, as a community, need to create a stronger sense of connectivity. People need to speak up and help others to safety — and the only way this can happen is by getting to know the people you’re surrounded by: your neighbours.