Monday, October 31, 2005

The City of Toronto whrings it's hands as crime increases, and fails to do anything about it.

Stats, zero tolerance will help curb crime: Giuliani


The man who successfully tackled crime in New York City during some of the city's darkest days offered some potentially contentious advice today to Canadian political leaders and police battling the growing scourges of gang wars and drugs.

Authorities must collect detailed crime statistics and adopt a zero tolerance policy for all criminal offences no matter how benign, Rudolph Giuliani said after addressing a conference on crisis leadership.

"You've got to be on offence against crime, not just defence," said Giuliani. "If you do those two things, you can reduce crime anywhere."

The recent rise in gang-related gun crimes in Canadian cities have officials scrambling for solutions. Toronto has expanded its guns and gangs task force to include surrounding municipalities, and Winnipeg is spending some $800,000 on a new unit to battle street thugs.

Still, a summer of headlines documenting gang warfare have raised the spectre that Canada's largest cities are assuming the "mean streets" reputation that once dogged New York City.

While that city saw dramatic reductions in crime during Giuliani's 1993 to 2002 mayoral reign — a 70 per cent drop according to statistics — his methods were not without controversy. Civil libertarians decried the use of zero-tolerance policies and compiling crime statistics to pinpoint criminal hotspots and clamp down on crime.

Modelling preventative crime-fighting strategies on those statistics, which can include the assailant's race, continues to raise concerns about racial profiling.

This summer in Toronto, a chorus of protest erupted against the idea of singling out young black men as a means of cracking down on the city's gun violence. The black city councillor behind the remarks went to pains to distance himself from suggestions of racial profiling.

For Giuliani, collecting crime statistics is the antithesis of racial profiling.

"I think if you use the statistics correctly they literally break you of stereotyping," he said.

"They give you the real numbers as opposed to what some people might have in their heads as a stereotype. They reveal to you the exact numbers of people who are committing crimes."

Toronto routinely collects data on criminal activity — and the force is no stranger to allegations of racial profiling — but Deputy Chief Tony Warr is adamant that race information is never recorded.

"We don't do racial statistics, we do crime in neighbourhoods and how it's affecting neighbourhoods."

As far as zero-tolerance policies for petty crime, Canadian officers don't have the same discretion as their counterparts in New York City, said Warr.

"In the States, you can arrest for a bylaw offence. It gives the police the power to take someone off the street, even if they're doing something like jumping a turnstyle on a subway."

As far as the civil liberties of those running afoul of the law under such policies, Giuliani was unapologetic.

"I always kept in front of my mind that the most important civil right was safety," he said of his time as mayor.

"You can't exercise the other ones unless you have safety. Government exists to provide safety and domestic tranquillity."

Although currently out of political life, Giuliani hasn't ruled out a U.S. presidential run in 2008.

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