More police unwelcome guests

Kingston Police have had their hands full since Frosh Week marked the kickoff of the school year three weeks ago. In a Police Services Board meeting last week, Police Chief Bill Closs said this was the worst Frosh Week he has seen in 12 years. The repercussions, Closs said, have left Kingston residents without adequate police coverage.

Emergency calls, including domestic disputes and a threatened suicide, were put on the backburner during Frosh Week. Closs pointed to rowdy students as the root of this debacle—officers were apparently tied up at raucous house parties scattered throughout the Ghetto.

Not only are students unfairly diverting police resources away from other Kingston residents, police say, but students are such miscreants the only solution is to increase the normal posting of two officers in the area to 16 officers on patrol at all times.

Particularly in the last few years, Kingston Police and the Queen’s student community have had a less than functional relationship, although police say they’ve found greater co-operation with the AMS. One has to wonder whether upping the number of patrol cars in the Ghetto will only widen that division.

That some individual students tend to overindulge, and make sure everyone knows it, isn’t worthy of debate. Instead, it’s the attitude towards these individuals that needs readjusting as Queen’s students are portrayed as an aggregate body of drunken slobs.

The police go out of their way to differentiate the Ghetto as its own municipality while simultaneously labelling Queen’s students as a wild group that is causing the city grief and necessitating laborious efforts by police.

If police are understaffed across Kingston, that’s a problem the city needs to address. But if police are attending to illegal keggers before more urgent situations, their priorities are seriously skewed.

Closs’s concerns, such as sexual assault cases rising because of alcohol consumption in the Ghetto, are unlikely to see a major turnaround simply because there are more cars patrolling the streets.

A working relationship can hardly be forged with the “us versus them” mentality this attitude is perpetuating. Until students fully see themselves as Kingston residents it’s difficult and hypocritical to ask the city to do the same. But assertions such as those the Kingston police are making only exacerbates the problem.

Clearly, posting more officers in the Ghetto will be effective in shutting down keggers and nabbing students drinking on the street. But it’s also obvious that reorganizing the force is needed in all areas of Kingston, not just the Queen’s community, and significant change won’t occur until this happens.

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