Thursday, October 1, 1998

Brian Dexter

p. B4.

Police forums begin in York

Public's input 'crucial' for plan new chief says

York Region police begin another round of public forums tonight intended to develop a "crucial" strategic plan for the force.

Chief Julian Fantino said yesterday he wants more help from the community in charting a plan for the 850-member service. Attendance has been low, he said. "We welcome input from whatever source to better enable us to get a fix on the future," said Fantino, a Woodbridge resident.

'I can tell you we are going to be very tough on crime'

Fantino, formerly chief of the London, Ont. force, took over in York on Aug. 4. He replaced Bryan Cousineau, who resigned earlier this year and has pleaded guilty to criminal charges.

Residents and police should work together to address safety, security and quality of life in the region, Fantino said.

"I can tell you we are going to be very tough on crime and very committed to community-based initiatives that bring everybody to the problem-solving table."

With 700 police officers, 150 civilian employees and an annual operating budget of $72 million, York Region is the seventh-largest police force in Ontario.

The force intends to crack down on aggressive driving, Fantino said. Those drivers who don't listen are "going to be hammered."

He said he also "guarantees" that body rub parlours in the region will get increased scrutiny from police.

"A lot of these are nothing but houses of prostitution," he said, adding police are getting "significant" complaints about such operations.

On Sept. 23, Fantino told the region's police board that 125 people faced bawdy house-related charges after raids on the Major Mack Hotel in Richmond Hill and other strip clubs in York Region. The same day, a provincial court injunction ordered the Major Mack club closed.

The ruling supports a Richmond Hill bylaw banning adult entertainment parlours from Yonge St. But lawyers for the club say they will appeal the order.

Tonight's forum begins at 7 p.m. at the Richmond Hill council chambers. There will be another session Monday at Aurora Town Hall, Tuesday at Vaughan council chambers and Wednesday at the Stephen Leacock Theatre in Keswick.

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Created: November 14, 1998
Last modified: November 14, 1998

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