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Police search for suspect wanted in Coronation Park area assault

CityNews | posted Monday, Jan 15th, 2018

Toronto police are searching for a man wanted in a series of assaults that took place near Coronation Park.

Investigators say the incidents occurred between December 10, 2017 and January 10, 2018 in the Stadium Road and Lakeshore Boulevard area.

In one of the incidents, the male suspect and a woman were arguing when he allegedly grabbed her, produced a knife and made death threats while holding her down.

Police say the suspect managed to flee before they arrived on the scene.

The suspect has been identified as 52-year-old Gregor Beresford, who is facing three counts of assault and uttering threats.

Anyone with information is asked to contact plice or Crime Stoppers.

Photojournalist files $900,000 lawsuit against Hamilton police

CityNews | posted Friday, Jan 12th, 2018

A television cameraman has filed a $900,000 lawsuit against the Hamilton Police Service for “unreasonable and excessive force” during his arrest last May.

Jeremy Cohn, a cameraman with Global News, is suing the department for false arrest, false imprisonment, assault, battery, intentional infliction of mental suffering as well as several breaches of his Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Cohn and another freelance photojournalist, David Ritchie, were arrested by police while attending the scene of an accident in which a 10-year-old girl was killed after being struck by a car.

In the statement of claim, Cohn alleges he was on the phone with a Hamilton media relations officer who advised him to “continue to shoot the scene as he normally would.” It was during a second conversation with the media relations officer that Cohn alleges he was “violently grabbed” by a police officer, dragged to a grassy area, pushed to the ground and restrained with a zip tie.

Cohn claims the incident left him “humiliated, confused and terrified.”

Video posted to social media showed police forcibly removing both men from the scene.

Cohn was eventually released without charges a short time later.

Cohn is asking for $700,000 in general damages and another $200,000 in punitive damages, according to court documents.

None of the allegations have been proven in court.

Ritchie, who was charged with obstructing a peace officer and resisting arrest, entered into a peace bond last October which requires him to complete 12.5 hours of community service and make a $250 donation.

Police officers shouldn’t be ‘guarding broken watermains:’ chief

CityNews | posted Friday, Jan 12th, 2018

Toronto’s police chief said he’s looking into the union’s concerns about understaffing on the force, but insisted he has already taken measures to correct the problem.

At an event on Thursday, Chief Mark Saunders said he agrees there were issues under the old model, but he’s since hired new officers and changed deployment, “[making] the pie a little wider.”

Saunders said he has added another 523 officers to the front line since last May and assigned more officers to cover larger areas.

“One of the key and critical pieces … is reducing the cost-for-service,” he told reporters. “That is fundamental if we’re going to be able to modernize.”

Saunders suggested it’s a waste to have skilled officers directing traffic and protecting crime scenes, and said there are some calls they shouldn’t be going to.

“There’s certain things that highly-trained police officers do not need to do,” he said. “Guarding a broken watermain — I don’t think that’s what the taxpayers want.”

However, Saunders said he is in the process of hiring more officers, though he has not settled on a number.

Trump uses vulgar language in rejecting bipartisan immigration deal

Alan Fram and Jonathan Lemire, The Associated Press | posted Friday, Jan 12th, 2018

In bluntly vulgar language, President Donald Trump questioned Thursday why the U.S. would accept more immigrants from Haiti and “shithole countries” in Africa rather than places like Norway, as he rejected a bipartisan immigration deal, according to people briefed on the extraordinary Oval Office conversation.

Trump’s contemptuous description of an entire continent startled lawmakers in the meeting and immediately revived charges that the president is racist. The White House did not deny his remark but issued a statement saying Trump supports immigration policies that welcome “those who can contribute to our society.”

Trump’s comments came as two senators presented details of a bipartisan compromise that would extend protections against deportation for hundreds of thousands of young immigrants – and also strengthen border protections as Trump has insisted.

The lawmakers had hoped Trump would back their accord, an agreement among six senators evenly split among Republicans and Democrats, ending a months-long, bitter dispute over protecting the “Dreamers.” But the White House later rejected it, plunging the issue back into uncertainty just eight days before a deadline that threatens a government shutdown.

Dick Durbin of Illinois, the Senate’ s No. 2 Democrat, explained that as part of that deal, a lottery for visas that has benefited people from Africa and other nations would be ended, the sources said, though there could be another way for them to apply. Durbin said people would be allowed to stay in the U.S. who fled here after disasters hit their homes in places including El Salvador, Guatemala and Haiti.

Trump specifically questioned why the U.S. would want to admit more people from Haiti. As for Africa, he asked why more people from “shithole countries” should be allowed into the U.S., the sources said.

The president suggested that instead, the U.S. should allow more entrants from countries like Norway. Trump met this week with Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg.

Asked about the remarks, White House spokesman Raj Shah did not deny them.

“Certain Washington politicians choose to fight for foreign countries, but President Trump will always fight for the American people,” he said.

The NAACP is accusing Trump of “lowbrow, callous and unfiltered racism.”

A statement released Thursday evening by the organization says Trump’s “decision to use profanity to describe African, Central American and Caribbean countries is not only a low mark for this president, it is a low point for our nation.”

The American Civil Liberties Union says Trump “has been consistently honest about the white nationalism behind his immigration policies.”

Lorella Praeli, the ACLU’s director of immigration policy, says Trump’s comments were “directly contrary to the decision Congress made in 1965 to do away with the racist per-country quotas of the past.”

Trump’s remarks were remarkable even by the standards of a president who has been accused by his foes of racist attitudes and has routinely smashed through public decorum that his modern predecessors have generally embraced.

“Racist,” tweeted Rep. Kathleen Rice, D-N.Y., after Thursday’s story broke.

Trump has called himself the “least racist person that you’ve ever met.”

The sources spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to publicly describe the conversation. One said lawmakers in the room were taken aback by Trump’s remarks.

The Trump administration announced late last year that it would end a temporary residency permit program that allowed nearly 60,000 citizens from Haiti to live and work in the United States following a devastating 2010 earthquake.

Trump has spoken positively about Haitians in public. During a 2016 campaign event in Miami, he said “the Haitian people deserve better” and told the audience of Haitian-Americans he wanted to “be your greatest champion, and I will be your champion.”

The agreement that Durbin and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., described to Trump also includes his $1.6 billion request for a first installment on his long-sought border wall, aides familiar with the agreement said. They required anonymity because the agreement is not yet public.

Trump’s request covers 74 miles of border wall as part of a 10-year, $18 billion proposal.

Democrats had long vowed they wouldn’t fund the wall but are accepting the opening request as part of a broader plan that protects from deportation about 800,000 younger immigrants brought to the country as children and now here illegally.

The deal also would include restrictions on a program allowing immigrants to bring some relatives to the U.S.

In an afternoon of drama and confusing developments, four other GOP lawmakers – including hardliners on immigration – were also in Trump’s office for Thursday’s meeting, a development sources said Durbin and Graham did not expect. It was unclear why the four Republicans were there, and the session did not produce the results the two senators were hoping for.

“There has not been a deal reached yet,” said White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders. But she added, “We feel like we’re close.”

Underscoring the hurdles facing the effort, other Republicans also undercut the significance of the deal the half-dozen senators hoped to sell to Trump.

“How do six people bind the other 94 in the Senate? I don’t get that,” said No. 2 Senate Republican John Cornyn of Texas.

Cornyn said the six lawmakers were hoping for a deal and “everyone would fall in line. The president made it clear to me on the phone less than an hour ago that he wasn’t going to do that.”

The six senators have been meeting for months to find a way to revive protections for young immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children and are here illegally. Trump ended the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program last year but has given Congress until March 5 to find a way to keep it alive.

Federal agencies will run out of money and have to shut down if lawmakers don’t pass legislation extending their financing by Jan. 19. Some Democrats are threatening to withhold their votes – which Republicans will need to push that legislation through Congress – unless an immigration accord is reached.

Cornyn said the real work for a bipartisan immigration deal will be achieved by a group of four leading lawmakers – the No. 2 Republicans and Democrats in both the House and Senate. That group met for the first time this week.

The immigration effort seemed to receive a boost Tuesday when Trump met with two dozen lawmakers and agreed to seek a bipartisan way to resuscitate the program. The group agreed to also include provisions strengthening security – which for Trump means building parts of a wall along the border with Mexico – curbing immigrants’ relatives from coming here and restricting the visa lottery.

Also in Thursday’s Oval Office meeting were House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., and GOP Sens. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and David Perdue of Georgia. Aides to lawmakers who attended declined to provide comment on Trump’s remarks.

Any immigration deal would face hurdles winning congressional approval.

Many Democrats would oppose providing substantial sums for Trump’s campaign promise to build a wall along the border with Mexico. Many Hispanic and liberal members of the party oppose steps toward curtailing immigration such as ending the visa lottery and restricting the relatives that legal immigrants could bring to the U.S.

Among Republicans, some conservatives are insisting on going further than the steps that Trump has suggested. They want to reduce legal immigration, require employers to verify workers’ citizenship and block federal grants to so-called sanctuary cities that hinder federal anti-immigrant efforts.

16-year-old arrested after 17-year-old stabbed to death in Oshawa

CityNews | posted Friday, Jan 12th, 2018

A 17-year-old man is dead and another teen is in custody following a stabbing in Oshawa.

Durham Region police were called to the area of Harmony and Taunton roads just after 3 p.m. Thursday.

Police say two males were involved in a verbal altercation which led to the 17-year-old being stabbed.

Const. George Tudos says when they arrived on the scene the teen was without vital signs.

He was taken to hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries

Police say a 16-year-old male suspect has been taken into custody and that charges are pending.

This is the first homicide of 2018 in Durham Region.

Section of the DVP closed due to flooding

The Canadian Press | posted Friday, Jan 12th, 2018

Toronto police shut down a section of the Don Valley Parkway in the city’s east end early Friday due to flooding.

The highway was closed at the south end to allow city work crews to assess the situation and clear catch basins.

The northbound lanes of the DVP reopened around 5:30 a.m.

The southbound lanes remain closed from the Bayview-Bloor exit.

The Bayview Extension is also closed from Mill Street to River Street.

Police had earlier warned that water levels in the adjacent Don River were rising due to rainfall.

The rain, and a rapid snow melt due to warm temperatures this week, follow a lengthy cold snap through the holiday season.

Environment Canada said rain was expected to continue into Friday morning, then change to a dusting of snow as temperatures plummet — with a brief spell of freezing rain likely during the rain-snow changeover.

The GTA remains under a special weather statement, calling for possible icy conditions Friday morning and afternoon.

It was about 10 C at 1 a.m., but the temperature was expected to drop to around the freezing mark on Friday, then plunge to around -11 C for the weekend, creating slippery conditions for driving and walking.

Risk of freezing rain, icy conditions for Friday

CityNews | posted Friday, Jan 12th, 2018

The warmest January 11 in Toronto is about to give way to a risk of freezing rain and a cold snap in time for the weekend.

The mercury reached a record 12.4 at Pearson airport on Thursday, which snapped the previous high of 11.7 set back in 1975.

However, Environment Canada has issued a special weather statement warning of the potential for icy conditions on Friday.

“Rain is forecast to change to snow Friday as temperatures plummet with the passage of a cold front,” said the weather agency.

“There may also be a brief period of freezing rain during the changeover from rain to snow.”

According to CityNews meteorologist Adam Stiles, we will see a 23 degree swing in temperatures from morning to Friday evening, starting the day off at 8C and ending the day around -8C. However, Toronto will likely be spared any significant snowfall.

“Looks like the system will stay to our south,” said Stiles. “Freezing rain tomorrow with a trace to 2 cm of snow by the evening drive. Then another few cm overnight. Not looking major at this point.”

Students feel safer with police presence in certain Ontario high schools: Study

Peter Goffin, The Canadian Press | posted Thursday, Jan 11th, 2018

A program that places police officers in certain southern Ontario high schools made students feel safer and allowed them to build good relationships with law enforcement, a study released Wednesday suggested.

The study from Carleton University examined the School Resource Officer program at high schools in Peel Region – which is made up of three municipalities west of Toronto – from 2014 to 2017 to determine the value of having officers in the schools.

Researchers conducted nearly 1,300 surveys of Grade 9 students at five Peel schools and conducted interviews with school resource officers, school administrators and community members.

“Every single one of these different groups (said) students feel safer at school,” said Carleton business professor Linda Duxbury, one of the study’s lead researchers. “The goal of the Peel program is to make people feel safer in schools so they can learn more … Every single source of data said it (met that goal).”

The study found students reported being less fearful in school and in the community since the program began more than two decades ago, and schools reported fewer incidents of crime and bullying.

Additionally, officers who build a relationship with a student may be more likely to divert that student towards rehabilitation programs outside the justice system if the student gets in trouble, the study found.

“We’re finding the diversion program really helps people learn from their mistakes and it takes people out of the criminal (system) so they’re not going to have a criminal record when they become an adult,” Peel Regional Police Chief Jennifer Evans said.

The School Resource Officer program costs the regional police force about $9 million per year, according to the report. There are currently 60 school resource officers in Peel Region, and every high school in the region has an officer assigned to it, Duxbury said.

Some advocates who have campaigned against the program in the past criticized the report for being too broad.

Andrea Vasquez Jimenez, co-chair of the Latinx, Afro-Latin-America, Abya Yala Education Network, said the study should have focused specifically on students from marginalized backgrounds, who are more likely to feel targeted by police.

“The Peel report makes it seem as if it’s a popularity contest, where they are just looking simply at the majority numbers, whereas if we are looking as these detrimental issues within our schools, and beyond we really have to ? look at who it negatively impacts and put more importance on that,” she said.

“Regardless of any report that attempts to show that having police in our schools makes our schools safer ? it’s really about relationships of students with educators,” Vasquez Jimenez added. “We need properly funded schools (with) an increase in mental health and wellness workers, social workers, community child and youth workers, and we need these educators to look ? like the diverse representation of our students.”

Duxbury said that, because the student surveys were anonymous, researchers were not able to track the race or culture of respondents.

Eight students who were interviewed in person for the report all came from racialized backgrounds, however, and the diversity of Peel schools ensures that the research results likely represent a wide variety of viewpoints, she said.

“One dominant finding is every single group of student benefited and felt safer over time,” Duxbury said.

The Toronto District School Board cancelled its own School Resource Officer program in November after a report by board staff found many racialized students felt harassed, targeted and unsafe when police were in their schools.

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