On move-in day during Orientation Week last year, Kingston police were caught off-guard by students flooding University Avenue for a spontaneous street party. This year, they knew what to expect but it still wasn’t enough to prepare them.
According to Kingston Police media relations officer, Steve Koopman, KP assigned eight officers to patrol University Ave. this Sunday night in order to contain the street partygoers. However, the eight officers could not contain the 200-plus students that crowded the street, meaning University Ave. was entirely inaccessible again this year.
This same blockage occurred again on the following Monday night, during which no officers were assigned to monitor the street, meaning officers called to University Ave. were taken away from normal duties and other calls to service.
Koopman noted that the Kingston Police Force receives 110 calls to service on an average day, and when incidents like this occur, many officers must deviate from regular calls, such as assaults and break-ins, in order to monitor the street.
On both nights, the crowd spanned from north of William St. on University Ave. all the way to Johnson Street. The street was inaccessible from approximately 10:30 p.m. till about 2 a.m.
This crowding not only threatened the safety of motorists, pedestrians, and cyclists, but also made it impossible for ambulances and paramedics to access University Avenue in case of emergencies.
Koopman explained to The Journal that when the street is closed off because of students, police have to warn emergency services that they must take an alternate route to get to Kingston General Hospital, which could add time onto their important journey.
“Seconds can count in terms of someone’s life,” Koopman said.
While Koopman noted that no students were harmed during the street party, he did qualify that it was “disappointing” to see the crowding get so out of hand.
While the force doesn’t keep exact statistics of tickets administered and arrests made during Orientation Week, he confirmed that two Queen’s students were arrested for public intoxication on Sunday move-in night, and approximately 50-plus tickets were administered.
The tickets were predominantly given for having open alcohol, which yields a $125 fine, and a few were given for underage drinking, Koopman said.
Koopman also said that the Kingston police had multiple calls to the pier for crowding, partying, drinking in public and reports of broken glass.
Despite these disappointments, Koopman noted that police have been able to prioritize public safety during Orientation Week, and that the majority of students interacting with officers were deemed to be quite respectful.
Koopman explained that the force doesn’t wish to take away from the student experience, but they want to make sure that students are being responsible and safe by keeping their parties on private property and refraining from risky behaviour.
AMS Municipal Affairs Commissioner Francis Campbell extended his gratitude to Koopman and the rest of the force for their work during the week.
“Kingston Police did a fantastic job,” he told The Journal. “We appreciate them ensuring the safety of our students during Frosh Week. There are things that we can work on as I’m sure you saw.”
For future years, Campbell said that the AMS will be exploring and encouraging the feasibility of more programming in the first few nights of Frosh Week, in order to de-incentivize first-year students from wandering into the University District to attend parties.
“It may not be something we can tackle ourselves so we’d look into working with the university on these projects,” he said.
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