By RON FANFAIR
They are among a special group of mothers and grandmothers who have said enough is enough to the violence that has plagued their Jane-Finch community.
Instead of packing up and leaving the neighbourhood, Daphne Palma, Maizie Messam and Carlene Clarke have taken on the criminal elements, with the aid of the Toronto Police Service, to clean up their area and make it a safe place for families and young children.
In response to 10 shootings and one homicide in Jane and Finch and six shootings and three murders in the Keele and Eglinton area in the first half of this year, the TPS rolled out its Toronto Anti-Violence Intervention Strategy (TAVIS) – the brainchild of Chief William “Bill” Blair – in which 75 officers were dispatched to the two communities last summer.
As part of the plan to increase their visibility, the foot-patrol and bicycle officers interacted positively with the community and the results have been significant. Since last July, there has been just one shooting each – both non-fatal – in the two communities.
“They have certainly made their presence felt and we feel much safer,” said Mezzam. “We want the police here because the violence is down and we have seen a difference.”
Mezzam, Palma and Clarke were among several individuals and organizations honoured last week for showing exemplary support, dedication and commitment to TAVIS in the two communities.
Staff Superintendent Tony Corrie, who served as a police officer in England for five years before coming to Toronto and joining the TPS almost 35 years ago, presented Certificates of Appreciation at the recognition ceremony at police headquarters.
“I have learned over those years that we cannot, as police officers, be successful in this community on our own,” he said. “We have to do it in partnership with communities. You are an example of people who are willing to step up and do things. We do have police officers who go beyond the call of duty to be engaged in communities, but you are the people who are there and who we are counting on.
“What you do each and every day makes your community a stronger and better place where we can live and have fun.”
Also recognized were Share reporter Ron Fanfair, freelance journalist William Doyle-Marshall, Canon Stephen Fields, Pastors Alvin Nicholson and Audley Goldbourne, York-South Weston MPP Laura Albanese and the Mixed Company Theatre.