Police suggest more Ghetto patrols all year

Student parties threaten public safety, Closs says

Inspector Brian Cookman looks on at last Thursday’s Police Services Board meeting.
Inspector Brian Cookman looks on at last Thursday’s Police Services Board meeting.

After a particularly rowdy September, Insp. Brian Cookman said Kingston Police may have to look into adding additional officers to patrol the Ghetto all year.

The Kingston Whig-Standard quoted police Chief Bill Closs suggesting the Ghetto might need up to 16 officers to patrol it all day, every day of the year.

Closs said police had to put several calls, including complaints of domestic abuse, on hold while dealing parties in the Ghetto. When a call is placed, it’s put into a queue based on its level of immediate importance. Cookman said a call involving a life threatening situation would obviously take precedence over something like a bicycle theft.

“It’s the persons of the communications personnel to determine the level of the emergency of the call,” he said. “Life and safety comes first before a party, unless a party is posing a danger for some reason.

“If what we’re seeing over the last few weeks continues, we would have to look at that.”

The city is broken down into zones, and each zone is addressed according to a number of factors, including the number of traffic accidents and service calls placed within the zone.

“The zones are defined by the history of each area,” he said. “Queen’s falls within a particular zone. You would normally find one or two uniformed officers patrolling that zone.”

Whether additional officers could be added to the area, Cookman said, would depend on a number of factors outside the police’s control.

“That’s a pretty hard projection to make,” he said. “It would depend upon whether or not the city authorized an increase in the strength of officers, and how many would it take to actually patrol the area.”

Cookman said increasing the number of police officers in the zone where Queen’s is located would depend on how receptive citizens of Kingston would be to paying higher taxes to cover the cost.

“If they’re willing to pay for more policing, that’s the jumping off point. If there’s no public appetite, then that’s the end of that,” he said. “If people are willing to add extra dollars to add more police, then we would have to make a business plan.”

Cookman said Queen’s isn’t considered a separate entity from the rest of the city, but is the source of a high volume of emergency response calls.

“People are starting to think that we’re focusing on Queen’s, and, well, yes we are because that’s where the calls for service are occurring,” he said. “If you’re committing an unlawful act, we have to deal with that.”

Cookman said he doesn’t understand why people resist police presence on the Kingston streets.

“I fail to understand why people start pointing fingers at the police, when we’re actually enforcing the law and holding people accountable for their actions,” he said. “It’s a simple equation: if you don’t break the law, the police won’t be there.”

Cookman said although housing trends are now leading to a wider distribution of students from the Ghetto to various parts of the city, having less of a concentration doesn’t make it easier to keep parties under control.

“It would help if they would party responsibly, and if students weren’t behaving in such a manner that is eliciting calls from their neighbours about their behaviour,” he said. “If the police are receiving a call about a noisy party, it’s likely coming from another Queen’s student. The irony in that is very poignant.”

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