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200 more officers head to the night shift Friday to curb shootings

Last Updated Jul 20, 2018 at 6:53 pm EDT

The city’s eight-week plan to reduce gun violence goes into effect on Friday, with 200 more officers being deployed to at-risk neighbourhoods between 7 p.m. and 3 a.m.

The move was announced last week by Toronto police Chief Mark Saunders and Mayor John Tory after an increase in gun violence.

Appearing on Breakfast Television on Friday, Saunders wouldn’t get into specifics on which neighbourhoods would see the increased police presence but said proper deployment was crucial to “understanding who the criminal element is.”

“When we talk about the modernization plan and when we talk about being where the public needs us most, one of the key factors is the deployment — where do we put our officers,” Saunders said.

There have been 27 fatal shootings so far this year, which is up from 17 at this time last year.

“On average, from 7 p.m. to 3 a.m., which is when most of the gunplay is happening, we have about 245 officers. I’ve made it very clear since we started this journey that we need to realign our resources better at key times of the day,” Saunders explained.

“Now that we’re working towards changing the shifts from a 35-year-old shift, to deal with today’s pressures, I think we have an opportunity to really take control of what needs to be taken control of.”

The additional staffing will be done in part through mandatory overtime — something the police union said violates the officers’ collective agreement.

Officers will be forced to work 12-hour shifts, and the union said there won’t be an appropriate rest time between shifts, which breaks their collective agreement.

“This whole notion that we’re going to have an additional 200 officers available is just not true,” said Mike McCormack, president of the Toronto Police Association.

“We’re relying on the officers that are already overworked.”

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