The revamping of a campaign to get guns off the streets has seen little advertisement in the city’s east end.
At the Oct. 23 launch of Crime Stoppers’ 2007 Guns for Cash campaign, new posters were unveiled to further publicize a two-year-old program that awards $500 to anyone with a tip leading to the seizure of illegal firearms.
Though the posters are available to anyone who requests them, currently only two posters advertising the initiative have been put up in east Scarborough.
According to Det. Larry Straver, coordinator of Crime Stoppers, the reason for the lack of posters has to do with the program’s reliance on free advertising space.
“It’s something that grows as we go along because we’re a charity,” he said. “Crime Stoppers does not pay to get this advertising out there.”
“We depend on the media to get it out there for us, and eventually people call in and say ‘Can I have a few posters?’”
The washrooms of two McDonald’s restaurants, one near Markham Road and Highway 401 and the other at Lawrence Avenue and Kingston Road, are currently the only two places where the ads were posted. Most of the posters are concentrated in the downtown core.
Straver, however, is confident that the amount of posters will grow.
“We didn’t really say we were going to put them up all right now,” he said. “If somebody you know, or if a school says ‘Hey we’d like to put out some [posters],’ we’d be more than happy to send them out to them. ”
However, some local schools remain in the dark about the offer.
Patricia Hodgins, principal of West Hill Collegiate, says she “knew nothing about” the Guns for Cash program.
Paul McAlpine and Tom Lazarou, principals of Pope John Paul II Catholic Secondary School and Sir Oliver Mowat C.I., both knew about the concept, but weren’t informed that posters were freely available for their schools.
Both, however, said they would be interested in putting the posters up in their schools in the future.
“Anything which promotes community harmony we take very seriously,” McAlpine said.
Stravers also hopes the posters will soon be appearing in police stations, prison waiting rooms and parole offices around the city.
“A guy in a probation office or a guy in a prison probably has a higher chance of seeing a gun out in the public somewhere,” Straver said. “So [we try] to get them out in those types of places to people who can give us that type of information, because they know where guns are. ”