Police Services Board agrees to Tasers

The Police Services Board has given Kingston Police the go-ahead to purchase Tasers.

At a meeting last Thursday, the Board approved a 9.5 per cent budget increase for the force, giving it a total budget of $23 million. Of that increase, the Board approved a capital budget of $783,000, some of which will fund the purchase of 30 new Tasers and 10 more police cars.

In a recent interview with the Journal, Insp. Brian Cookman—who oversaw the police presence in the Ghetto over Homecoming weekend—indicated Tasers and helmets would be helpful for his officers if they are confronted with another unsanctioned Aberdeen Street party like that which occurred Sept. 24.

Cookman included these items in a proposal he made to the Police Services Board on Oct. 19, requesting about $455,000 to implement a plan of action for next year.

The funds would also cover the costs of logistics, staffing and potentially bringing in more police from out of the city, he said.

While it remains unclear how much of this plan will be adopted, the Board chose to cut the staffing cost component of Cookman’s proposal. Funds to purchase Tasers were approved at the meeting as part of the overall budget increase.

“I don’t know if they’re specifically for the Homecoming thing,” said Const. Neil Finn, police spokesperson. “I know that they’re a great tool for officers on the road, a fantastic tool for officer safety, [and] being a police officer myself, I’m assuming that’s basically what they’re for, even though they can be used at events like Homecoming.”

The force currently has four Tasers.

The Police Services Board, which is the civilian body that oversees the day-to-day operations of the police, is comprised of Mayor Harvey Rosen, City Councillor for Trillium district George Stoparczyk and a city appointee—in this case, former city councillor Carol Allison-Burra. There are also two provincial appointees, one of whom is former Kingston Police Chief William Hackett.

Finn said that as long as the Board approves the budget, the city is obligated to provide the funds.

“But, just to be nice—because you can’t go to city hall and pound your fist—it goes before city hall,” he said. “City hall tries to cut it and cut it and it may come back [to the Board] to be cut, but usually, they try to work it out among themselves.”

Finn added the budget itself will become public in early 2006, once city councillors review and give their final—though more symbolic—approval.

The 9.5 per cent increase, the bulk of which will cover staffing costs, will also allow the force to likely hire eight additional officers, Finn said.

—With files from the Kingston Whig-Standard

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