ABOUT PROJECT #ENGAGE416

The Executive Background


Project #Engage416 is an expansion and new component of the Toronto Police Service's greater gang prevention strategy that focuses on implementing a version of the evidence-based Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention comprehensive gang model at the neighbourhood level, modified to fit the diverse needs of 12 pilot neighbourhoods in the City of Toronto. Between September of 2019 and March of 2020, the Toronto Police Service's Integrated Gang Prevention Task Force hosted over 30 Gang Prevention Town Halls in the City of Toronto's 31 lowest equitable neighbourhoods. During the Gang Prevention Town Halls, over 1,600 community members and 50+ government and non-government organizations voiced their experiences, opinions, ideas, and concerns. Their voices were not lost, forgotten, or ignored. Highly motivated and influenced by the community outreach, Project #Engage416 is geared towards the insights gained, community concerns, and empowerment needed in some of the most gang-impacted neighbourhoods in Toronto. Based on the five core strategies of: (1) Community Mobilization (2) Opportunities Provision (3) Social Intervention (4) Suppression, and (5) Organizational Change and Development, Project #Engage416 will focus on conducting intensive community outreach efforts in 12 of the most impacted neighbourhoods in the City of Toronto's northwest quadrant to support our mission statement of engaging and empowering communities to educate, prevent, intervene, and suppress gun & gang violence, human trafficking, and sexual violence & harassment - driving solutions, from the inside out.




Our Goals & Objectives


  1. To develop a community involved "Neighbourhood Team" focused on implementing appropriate education, prevention, intervention, and suppression strategies and initiatives focused on the reduction of guns & gangs, sexual violence & harassment, and human trafficking.
  2. To develop and establish an "Intervention Team" to become the primary delivery mechanism for the Social Intervention and Opportunities Provision strategies.
  3. To identify and deploy evidence-based primary (focused on the entire population of a neighbourhood) and secondary (focused on activities and services for young people, primarily between the ages of 7 - 14, who are at high risk of joining gangs, being victimized by sexual violence & harassment, and/or being manipulating into human trafficking) prevention efforts.
  4. To identify and deploy evidence-based intervention strategies in a comprehensive manner to those that are identified as being gun & gang involved, the aggressor in sexual violence & harassment, and those involved in all aspects of human trafficking (victims and victimizers).
  5. To engage in wraparound and evidence-based crime suppression strategies through all stakeholders working together to hold the target populations accountable at a community and justice level.




The Five Core Strategies


(1) COMMUNITY MOBILIZATION The Neighbourhood Teams of key organizations, and other community leaders within the individual neighbourhoods, guides certain aspects of the implementation of Project #Engage416 by providing insights to barriers to implementation, developing sound policy, lending support to the project where and when appropriate, and taking general ownership of the neighbourhood-wide response.
The Neighbourhood Teams assist in maintaining interagency and community relationships that facilitate project development and implementation. For example, the Neighbourhood Teams might be engaged to work out ideas for law enforcement/outreach worker interactions and information sharing to meet the needs of target youth and their families.
Neighbourhood Team members and project staff work with residents, and community leaders, in the target area to elicit their ideas and afford them a voice in identifying services and activities in the community. This helps facilitate the development of community groups (e.g., neighbourhood watch, neighbours/mothers against gangs, or other community alliances and coalitions).
Project #Engage416 aims to be supported and sustained across all levels (policymakers/agency heads, middle-level managers, and line staff) of the criminal and youth justice systems (police, probation/parole, courts/judges, prosecutors, corrections), schools (superintendents, principals, counsellors, teachers), community-based service, grassroots organizations, and government.
Neighbourhood residents in the target area(s) are offered programs and training to educate parents, business owners, and neighbourhood groups about gun & gang violence, sexual violence & harassment, and human trafficking.

(2) OPPORTUNITIES PROVISION Special access to economic opportunities in the local and wider community is provided for gang-involved youth.
Job-related education opportunities such as special educational and vocational skills and readiness training are structured, to the extent possible, within regular schools, training programs, and mainstream job opportunities.
Care is taken to avoid segregating or alienating gang members from mainstream institutions unless serious safety concerns warrant it.
Job-related education opportunities are also structured to meet special needs of gang members returning to the community after being incarcerated, or in short-term custody.
Education, training, and job opportunity strategies are integrated with those of social service, particularly youth outreach work, along with close supervision and social mitigation, as necessary.
Grassroots groups, faith-based organizations, and community youth agencies are involved by sponsoring training, tutoring, remedial education, vocational, and job development/placement programs for gang youth.

(3) SOCIAL INTERVENTION Although understanding and sensitivity to gang structure, culture, and systems are essential to influencing a youth at risk of gang involvement/gang members and providing effective intervention - social intervention is directed to the youth at risk of gang involvement, and not to the gang as a unit.
Access to social intervention services is provided to associates of the youth at risk of gang involvement/gang members because their peers may contribute to an at risk youth’s gang involvement.
Care is taken to ensure that services such as substance abuse programming, mental health counselling, and other services required by youth at risk of gang involvement/gang members are available and accessible, and preferably, located within their neighbourhood.
All key organizations and associated service providers are provided with training and support to ensure that their facilities are safe while providing needed services to youth at risk of gang involvement/gang members.
Agency personnel are urged to contact youth at risk of gang involvement/gang members and gang members in prison or detention centres to plan for provision of wrap-around re-entry services for these clients when they are released into the community.
Targeted youth at risk of gang involvement/gang members, and their families, are provided with a variety of services that assist them in adopting non-destructive values and in accessing programs and organizations that will meet their social, educational, vocational, and in some cases - health, housing, and income needs.
A Neighbourhood Team is established to focus on core youth at risk of gang involvement/gang youth, with special capacity to reach youth, both non justice involved and justice involved, in the local neighbourhood setting.
The primary focus of neighbourhood outreach services is building an ongoing and prosocial relationship with youth and families while linking them to appropriate services.
The safety of youth at risk of gang involvement/gang members, their families, Intervention Team members, and the wider community remains a primary consideration in service delivery - including interactions with Neighbourhood Teams.
Outreach activities such as recreation and arts are carefully arranged so-as not to become a primary focus, but rather a means to build relationships with youth at risk of gang involvement/gang members and provide access to essential resources or services.

(4) SUPPRESSION Gun & gang, sexual violence & harassment, and human trafficking suppression activities expand the traditional roles of policing to include informal contacts with youth at risk of gang involvement or human trafficking, gang members, human trafficking victims, their families, and other members of the community.
Police administration and police officers on the Neighbourhood Teams have a key role in the development and implementation of Project #Engage416, not only through advocating for and facilitating suppression strategies - but by participating in development of intervention plans, positive social contacts with youth at risk of gang involvement or human trafficking, gang members, human trafficking victims, their families, and other members of the community, community mobilization efforts, and gang prevention activities focused in the respective neighbourhoods.
Gang, sexual violence and harassment, and human trafficking crime data collection and analysis (i.e., crime analysis) methods are used on an ongoing basis to track related crimes, measure Project #Engage effectiveness and determine law enforcement strategies.
Definitions of gang-related incidents, gangs, gang members, and youth at risk of gang involvement and human trafficking are used consistently by all key stakeholders.
Gang intelligence is routinely collected, analyzed, and shared with other law enforcement and criminal justice entities.
Police contact with target youth is quantified and discussed with other members of the Intervention Team for the purposes of team planning and collaboration. Contacts should be consistent with the policing policy.
Parolees and probationers are closely supervised, and parole conditions and probation terms target gang behaviours and are shared with the rest of the Intervention Team, whose members consistently support and enforce these terms and conditions.
Aggregate-level data on the gang problem is regularly shared with all of the key agencies involved in Project #Engage416, particularly the Neighbourhood Teams.
Professional respect and appropriate collaboration between police, Neighbourhood Teams, community members, and other stakeholders
are established.
Community policing, and policing units that have contact with youth at risk of gang involvement or human trafficking, gang members, human trafficking victims, their families, and other members of the community are briefed on Project #Engage416 and communication structures are established between these entities and members of the Intervention Team. These units may modify procedures to meet and sustain the goals of the Project #Engage416.
Targeted enforcement operations are consistent with current gang data and Project #Engage program goals and are coordinated to avoid negative impacts on intervention activities, community relationships, and those in conflict with the law.

(5) ORGANIZATIONAL CHANGE & DEVELOPMENT The policies and practices of organizations, particularly of agencies providing Intervention Team staff, accommodate the goals and objectives of the Project #Engage416.
Each program, agency, or community representative on the Neighbourhood Team ensures that its internal units are cooperating with one another and supporting the work of the Intervention Team.
The Neighbourhood Team approach means that the role of each member is expanded outside the normal professional boundaries (e.g., police may become involved in social intervention, and outreach workers may assist with crime suppression by discouraging criminal acts by their clients).
Case management and associated data systems are established so that contacts and services by all members of the Neighbourhood Team are quantified to track community entry into and exit out of Project #Engage416, and measure outcomes and intervention dosage (by contacts and services) at individual and program area levels.
Staff development and training for the Intervention Team are conducted for the different types of team participants separately and collectively, especially around data sharing, joint planning, and intervention activities.
Intervention Team and Neighbourhood Team members also receive training on the entire implementation plan.
Special training, close supervision, and administrative arrangements are established for the Neighbourhood Teams, the Intervention Team, and law enforcement to carry out their collaborative roles in a mutually trustworthy fashion.
Organizational policies and practices become inclusive and community-oriented, with awareness of the interests, needs, and cultural backgrounds of local residents, youth at risk of gang involvement or human trafficking, gang members, human trafficking victims, their families, and other impacted members of the community




Our Key Performance Indicators


  • GUN & GANG RELATED VIOLENCE
5% decrease in rate of firearms and gang related crimes 5% decrease in number of firearm and gang related homicides 5% increase in charges laid for gang or gun related crimes Increase in hours of community patrol activity in the neighbourhood 25% increase in public awareness of gang activity
  • SEXUAL VIOLENCE & HARASSMENT
5% increase in officer training 25% increase in victim feelings of support 25% increase in public awareness of support services 50% increase in multi-sectoral partnerships 5% increase in number of respective calls for service as a result of public education and trust in reporting 5% increase in number of respective indictments
  • HUMAN TRAFFICKING
5% increase in officer training Increase in victim perception of support during the prosecution process 25% increase in public awareness of human trafficking 25% increase in multi-sectoral partnerships 5% increase in number of respective calls for service as a result of public education and trust in reporting 5% increase in number of respective indictments




Problem Category Prioritization


(1) SERIOUS THREATS Serious threats to the physical safety of community members should receive top priority and warrant immediate action. Prevention and intervention efforts will be compromised as long as these problems continue unaddressed. (2) PERCEIVED THREATS Problems that are perceived as threats to the safety of community members should receive medium priority and warrant a response that reassures community members that their needs are being listened to and addressed. (3) LONG-TERM Problems that are long-term and systemic in nature, and that deal with large, underlying social conditions in the targeted community, should be addressed with long-term strategies that will resolve these issues without creating new problems. These problems play a significant and contributing role in local gang issues but are not immediately life-threatening. (4) SERIOUS OBSTACLES Problems that pose a serious obstacle to an effective response to local gangs should be addressed with strategies that change the policies and procedures of local agencies so they are more successful in responding to gangs.




Virtual Neighbourhood Teams


THE VIRTUAL NEIGHBOURHOOD TEAMS

  • Will identify and recommend specific tasks for specific stakeholders to engage in.
  • Will identify and recommend which stakeholders will handle various administrative aspects of Project #Engage416.
  • Will identify and participate in the preparation in the scope of work, including data that will be continually collected and analyzed during implementation, such as survey distribution and collection, publicly available crime data, and other information deemed suitable that will aid in success measures.
  • Will ensure that management systems are designed, maintained, and updated to track neighbourhood needs, services available and provided, and outcomes for targeted youth, persons, and their families.
  • Will assist in the facilitation of service modifications in Project #Engage416 and policy to support the project.
  • Will develop community involvement strategies to support the project.
  • Will provide ongoing review and project modification.
  • Will identify ways to ensure long-term sustainability.
IMPLEMENTATION TASKS & ACTIVITIES
  • Holding meetings consistently at a regular time and date.
  • Develop a newsletter for Project #Engage416 partners, stakeholders, and community members.
  • Engaging Neighbourhood Team members in education on gun and gang violence, sexual harassment and violence, and human trafficking through a variety of methods and means.
  • Identifying an active and committed chairperson with positive visibility in the community.
  • Providing a formal orientation for new Neighbourhood Team members.
  • Holding annual team building events to identify future activities and reinvigorate the Neighbourhood Team.
  • Ensure regular contact is maintained with all Virtual Neighbourhood Team members.
  • Acknowledgement of Virtual Neighbourhood Team members contributions.
  • Provide Virtual Neighbourhood Team members with written materials and report on project activities in advance of meetings.
  • Using meeting time productive (not to report on activities, but for decision-making).
THE INTEGRATED GANG PREVENTION TASK FORCE
  • Will provide a secure, online location to facilitate Virtual Neighbourhood Team meetings.
  • Will track the activities of involved government and non-government agencies for the purposes of effectiveness, best practices, lessons learned and to support the mission statement.
  • Provide training on, mentor, and facilitate the administrative framework.
  • Administer funds and grant contracts.




Prevention Activities


PRIMARY ACTIVITIES ( Focused on the entire population of a high-risk community)

  • Conducting virtual workshops and training to increase community awareness about gangs, sexual violence and harassment, and human trafficking.
  • Working to change conditions contributing to gang involvement within the targeted community.
  • Creating a one-stop presence that facilitates effective distribution of health and support services.
  • Conducting policy work to create procedures for community members to report crimes.
SECONDARY ACTIVITIES ( Focused on the families, siblings, or associates of intervention persons)
  • Tutoring.
  • Mentoring.
  • After-school programming.




Intervention Activities


  • Drug and alcohol treatment.
  • Mental health and anger-management counselling.
  • Job training and placement.
  • Transportation assistance.
  • Tattoo removal.
  • Legal assistance.
  • Transitional/reentry services.
  • Mentoring by Neighbourhood Teams, government and non-government stakeholder partners, to develop skills and to provide the target youth with positive adult relationships and role models.
  • Additional services, as identified and required.




Suppression Activities


  • Participating in joint police/probation activities.
  • Targeting enforcement to the times, places, and events in which data, intelligence, and historic gang enforcement patterns indicate that gangs are active.
  • Designing investigative strategies to address specific gang-related, sexual assault and violence, and human trafficking crimes.
  • Executing directed patrols of locations where victimization occurs.
  • Conducting community outreach and forums to address incidents.
  • Establishing neighbourhood strategies to reduce gun and gang violence, sexual assault and harassment, and human trafficking victimization.
  • Making informal contacts with targeted youth, persons, and their families.
  • Additional measures, as identified and required.





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