By: Tyler Hehn
A little over a month into 2017 and Toronto Police Operations have tweeted about over 45 gun related incidents and seven shooting homicides.
According to the Toronto Police, crime stats from 2016 saw 580 total gun crimes with 40 homicides. From 2015 this is a 35 per cent increase in incidents and a 50 per cent increase in deaths.
By this time last year there were roughly 50 incidents with eight homicides tweeted by Toronto Police. Simply multiplying the number of incidents by 12 would have predicted 600 total gun reports for the year of 2016, which wasn’t far off from the reality.
“There are months that go by where we won’t have any, and there are other months like [this] February so far, which has had one almost every day,” says Toronto police spokesperson Const. David Hopkinson.
Hopkinson says that these calculations are interesting, but are unreliable as a predictive measure.
Hopkinson said predicting crime in general is impossible due to its naturally inconsistent behaviour.
Tweeting about crime is not high on the list of priorities for Toronto Police Officers and so not everything gets pushed through social media.
“Our Twitter feed is not 24 hours a day. There are a number of shootings that will occur that we can’t report on Twitter because we don’t have an officer available to do so,” said Hopkinson, “There are also things that happen where we are not able to comment because in commenting we may be identifying a victim or a witness.”
Considering the small sample size of Twitter, Hopkinson says that statistics provided by police should be used for any type of geographic or numerical trends.
Here is an interactive map displaying the gun incidents of 2017 that @TPSOperations have reported up until February 9.