Here's What's Being Done About Troubling Youth Brawls in Brampton
If you’ve noticed an increase in parking lot brawls and youth violence in Brampton, you’re not alone. Some alarming videos of brawls in Brampton have gone viral in the past few months, and now, community leaders are stepping up in an effort to reduce these troubling incidents - and those that often go entirely unreported - across the city.
In this past year, there was a brawl in the Chalo! FreshCo plaza at Bramalea and Sandalwood, a brawl that involved sticks in the plaza near Sheridan College at McLaughlin and Steeles, and most recently, a reader reached out to inbrampton.com with a video of yet another brawl in the same plaza near Sheridan College.
And these are just some of the incidents that Brampton residents have posted on social media in recent months.
It’s no secret that the community is concerned. But it’s also true that many of these incidents are going unreported, and the perpetrators are not always caught.
On June 22, 2018, Brampton MPs Kamal Khera, Sonia Sidhu, and Ruby Sahota brought this major issue to the Peel Police Services Board to discuss what exactly is being done about youth brawls in Brampton.
“We know that several incidents of youth fighting in Shoppers World plaza and Sheridan College area has recently been reported,” said Khera.
“Videos of these brawls are widely circulated on social media and many community members are concerned about the escalating violence.”
“We have received more than hundreds of calls and emails as the community is beginning to feel that nothing is being done to ensure that they’re safe and secure. This is not the Brampton we know.”
Sidhu added that more liaison officers might be needed in Brampton to better understand its needs and to address the community’s concern around these incidents.
The main and most immediate request?
That police presence be increased near Shoppers World and Sheridan College to nab anyone involved in a brawl immediately.
“Violence occurring amongst youth is a complex problem and there’s many layers involved to that problem, and we’re going to work with every level to ensure long-term solutions,” said Sahota.
“But in the immediate, we would request that there be patrolling 24/7 of this area, and that we also be provided with some statistics as to what the police has done, what the backgrounds of these people are, where they reside, so that we can put together a long-term strategy to come up with some solutions that will be not for just the immediate, but for the foreseeable future.”
“I think in order for Bramptonians to feel safe in their community, they’re going to need to see more officers, at least in that area, for the time being so that we can quash some of the violence that’s happening, some of the fights that are starting, that people will feel that there is law and order, and that there is stiff rules and penalties that those would face when they break the law.”
The MPs confirmed that they have written letters to Peel Regional Police Chief Jennifer Evans, Brampton’s Mayor Linda Jeffrey, Sheridan College officials, and Brampton’s MPPs to address these youth brawls.
Brampton’s MPs have also released a joint statement on this worrisome issue.
My office has received several calls and emails from concerned community members about the recent violence and crime occurring in Brampton. As the Member of Parliament for Brampton North, my number one priority is to keep our community safe. I, along with my fellow Brampton Members of Parliament, are taking action and will be engaging with all levels of government and with our community to respond to this surge in violence and address the root cause(s).
Some arrests have been made. In the Sheridan College stick brawl incident, for instance, officers have arrested three Brampton men. Karanbir Singh, Harbir Singh (both 22), and Gurpreet Singh (20) have each been charged with one count of assault causing bodily harm.
But according to Evans, one concern in addressing the problem is sentencing.
“We lay criminal charges, we go to the courts, and often the sentence doesn’t always match the crime,” said Evans.
“Maybe we need to start looking at mandatory minimum sentences for people who commit assaults or violent crimes with a weapon.”
It’s true that more officers have been added to the force in attempts to address increasing violence on the streets in Brampton.
According to Jeffrey, 37 more officers and 10 more dispatchers have been added as of last year.
“We all feel that things are still escalating,” said Jeffrey, noting that she intends to work with police and Sheridan College to make Brampton safer.
“I want to thank everyone who has been in touch with my office and shared their concerns regarding the disturbing social media videos that have recently gone viral,” said Jeffrey in a recent release. She added that she has been advocating for more resources and police officers since fall 2017.
“I recommended Chief Evans personally reach out to various media outlets and community meetings to provide details about what actions are being taken to address crime in the City. Chief Evans has committed to increased media availability to address this issue.”
While there is a lot on the table and the conversation has just begun on practical solutions to combat youth violence in Brampton, there is one aspect of this issue that’s potentially more concerning than any other.
People are recording these youth brawls and putting them up on social media, but in many cases, no one is contacting the police while the fights are happening.
“The concern we’re having with Peel police is people are video taping and recording and putting it on YouTube instead of calling the police, which is really what we need people to do, because that way, we can respond, and we can make arrests while people are still there, and that way we can seize the video evidence to be used in court,” said Evans.
Evans added that in talks with a group of students ranging from grade 10 to first and second year university, some youth said that “students were making their own weapons and bringing them to school.”
As for what you can expect after this initial delegation, more community programming is in the works including town halls, and Evans aims to talk to ethnic media outlets to spread the word.
On June 25, 2018, there was an initial town hall meeting at Jim Archdekin Community Centre specifically to address residents’ growing concern around youth violence in Brampton, hosted by the Ontario Gurdwara Committee and United Sikhs. The room was packed with concerned Bramptonians.
“This is a priority for Peel Regional Police,” reads a recent media release from Peel police.
“We have increased patrols using officers from our Neighbourhood Policing Unit, Uniform Patrol and our Community Mobilization Teams. The officers from these units have placed their focus on the locations that have been identified and will continue to do so. Investigators in our Criminal Investigation Bureau are working diligently to identify those involved.”
So, patrols are indeed being increased in troublesome areas.
“We need to teach our young people that these are not the ways to resolve conflicts, and we need to do that together,” said Superintendent Stephen Blom of 22 Division.
Blom put out a call to action for the community, too.
“I’m well aware that policing is a huge part of the solution but it’s not all of it. We need your help.”
Police are urging the community to report any violent activity to police immediately.
“I share the concerns of the community and want to assure the public that we are working diligently to identify those responsible for these violent acts,” said Evans.
“We are committed to keeping our community safe, but we cannot do it alone. We need the community to help us by calling police with any information that might help us find those responsible.”
If you witness a violent youth brawl, you can contact police at 911.
“Should you be concerned about being seen by the suspects, officers can meet you at another location,” reads the release.
You can report an incident or any information directly to 22 Division Criminal Investigators Bureau at 905-453-2121 ext. 2233. Information may also be left anonymously by calling Peel Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or by visiting www.peelcrimestoppers.ca.
Have you witnessed a brawl in Brampton?
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