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posted January 15, 2001

Police Responses To Park Calls 1999-2000

In the fall of 2000, we got a comment from a staff sergeant at Toronto Police, Fourteen Division, saying that Fourteen Division spent a lot of time responding to requests for help from our park and nearby Wallace-Emerson Park (i.e. suggesting park calls were somewhat of a pain in the neck). This hurt our feelings, so we went over our log book, to check how often park workers had called police and how police had responded. Here's the list of every call we made in 1999-2000. (Since that time we've rarely called police, but tried to rely on community help when there's a problem of public order.)

No.1
July 26, 1999
: An outdoor-theater rehearsal was seriously disrupted by a disorderly group of drinkers, one of whom threatened park staff. Police were called. The drinkers left an hour later and the police arrived after an hour and a half.

No.2
November 7, 1999
: After a week when the fire department was called to the park three times to put out illegal campfires, police were called to another illegal campfire. Police responded within 20 minutes, put the fire out and talked to the youth. There were no more illegal campfires that fall.

No.3
November 13, 1999
: I came upon a large group of youth vandalizing the playground area late at night. When I shouted at them to stop, they threatened to beat me up, so I went home and called police. The police came and questioned one person but did not lay a charge. At the request of the Parks Department, they later obtained a statement from me and from the park supervisor and then returned to that young man's house and charged him with mischief. This charge was subsequently mislaid in a drawer by a detective, and therefore did not get to court. I was called by P.C. Bob Patterson on August 8 2000 (9 months later), to inform me of this fact, and notify me that the charge would now be laid anew, as an indictable offense. But when P.C. Patterson found out that the suspect had recently done court-ordered community service, on an unrelated conviction, at the park, he said that we no longer had a case (since he could no longer use a photo-lineup to get an identification of the suspect from me). Although I agreed to this, the Parks Department did not, and notified Supt.Gottschild of their wish to have the charge laid again. Their letter has received no reply to date (2 months).

No.4
January 11, 2000
: Police were called to the Wallace-Emerson Community Centre ice rink because 8-10 youth at the rink were armed with sticks and bats and were discussing a planned attack on other youth behind the Dufferin Mall. Youth at Dufferin Rink were also heard discussing the plan. Police came to Wallace Rink and simply told the youth to go home.

No.5
January 20, 2000
: Police were called to Wallace Rink because a rink guard was shot in the leg with a pellet gun and the area supervisor's car window was shot out at the same time. A suspect was arrested. At the request of the area supervisor, a park staff member and I have followed this person through eight court appearances, with still no trial date set. The last two postponements were because the lawyer says there have been three different police officers in charge of this case and he cannot discover who is currently in charge. When the park's area supervisor tried to find out who is the officer-in-charge he also was unable to get an answer from Fourteen Division.

No.6
February 2, 2000
: Police were called to Dufferin Rink by the rink supervisor because a group of belligerent youth were refusing a staff order to leave the rink. After an hour the rink supervisor left and so did the youth. A police officer arrived after an hour and a half and requested a statement from me, because I was there working at the snack bar. He also requested my date of birth. When I declined to give it, he said we could not expect future police cooperation if I acted like that.

No.7
May 11, 2000
: Police met with city staff to discuss improvement of park/police co-operation around problems in parks and rinks. Outcome: suggestion that P.C.Terry Lucko would come and discuss specifics with park staff. The park supervisor called P.C. Lucko to arrange a meeting but has had no call back to date (3 months).

No.8
July 28, 2000
: Police were called to remove a delusional, destructive person on a trespass letter and issue a ticket. They removed him but issued no ticket.

No.9
August 10, 2000
: Police were called to remove the same person again. No sign that they came. The person continued to come to the park and vandalize the park washroom. As a result the park washroom was out of order and closed for most of the summer. This was a problem because of record numbers of people attending park events and programs this past summer. Also the parks department spent more than $1400 fixing the damage before they decided to close down the washroom.

No.10
September 3, 2000
: Police received at least two 911 calls in connection with group violence toward a person being kicked and beaten on the ground near the basket ball court. One police car, a fire engine and an ambulance responded. The ambulance took the person to St.Michael's Hospital. When park staff called to find out what happened, they heard through our city councillor that the police had no record of the case. Further community inquiries produced the information that the victim refused to lay a charge and that's why there was no follow-up. A neighbourhood letter with specific questions about the way this incident was handled, to Superintendent Gottschalk, has received no answer from him to date.


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