Toronto police play the part of The Avengers (and improve their image in the process)

Toronto police play the part of The Avengers (and improve their image in the process)

Old-timey Toronto police (Image: Toronto History)

The Globe and Mail reports that this week’s coordinated police raids—which took place both here and in far-flung locales like British Columbia—grew out of an investigation into a shooting in the Jane-Finch area. The police probe revealed there was what Bill Blair called “a level of mobility among street gangs” (in other words, gang members were committing crimes all over the country, not just at Jane and Finch), and the success of the operation should go some way to repair the police’s image in the public eye.

The Globe and Mail has the story:

Two Jane-Finch gangs were targeted by the crackdown, the Young Buck Killas, also known as YBK, and the G-Siders, said Superintendent Chris White, the officer in charge of the Toronto police’s Organized Crime Enforcement Unit.

The police operation was code-named Project Marvel, because many of the suspects gave themselves nicknames inspired by characters from Marvel comic books, he said.

The probe looked at gang-related drug trafficking, robbery, attempted murder and prostitution.

Wait, Project Marvel? Really? Oh, well. Goofy nicknames aside, we’re curious about the vacancies left on the street by the 60 arrests. A criminology professor quoted in the Globe’s story called the arrests “insignificant,” pointing out that those vacancies are likely to be filled by other gang members lying in wait. More to the point, the apparent level of sophistication of Marvel would suggest that fighting crime (or preventing it) is far more complicated than building and filling prisons. Ahem.

Still, the police have likely scored a public relations victory with this one. Coupling dozens of high-profile arrests with the recent eviction of Occupy Toronto (which, by almost all accounts, amounted to a PR victory for the boys in blue), the police are presenting themselves once again as skilled tacticians rather than the baton-happy goons of the G20.

‘Comic book’ gang raids nab 60 people across the country [Toronto Star]
Toronto shooting led to massive raid on gangs in four provinces [Globe and Mail]
60 arrested in massive ‘Project Marvel’ organized crime raid involving more than 900 officers [National Post]

UPDATE: The headline originally referenced The Justice League (a DC comics supergroup) rather than The Avengers (a Marvel comics supergroup). recognizes that The Avengers are a more appropriate reference and regrets the miscue. We will endeavour to be nerdier in the future. (Hat tip: @boyreporter)