Police bring extra forces

About 230 officers to patrol the Ghetto over the weekend

Kingston police will use surveillance cameras and extra lighting on Aberdeen Street as they did during Homecoming 2006.
Kingston police will use surveillance cameras and extra lighting on Aberdeen Street as they did during Homecoming 2006.

As Homecoming weekend approaches, the Kingston police are making final arrangements to ensure a safe weekend.

Police Insp. Brian Cookman said the position of police officers around the Ghetto has been adjusted from last year due to unexpected partying on the Friday of Homecoming 2006.

“We did tweak our deployment a wee bit so we could address some of the Friday issues that we had to let slide a bit last year,” he said. “Friday kind of took us off-guard because of all the people that were out. [The police’s] resources were prohibitive in terms of being able to stop that.”

Cookman said public order units from Toronto and the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) are being brought in to police partygoers.

“We have upwards of probably 170 police officers of the Kingston police working plus our agency members from OPP and the Toronto police,” he said. “They’re not all going to be out at the same time.”

Last year, Kingston police had one OPP public order unit and two Toronto police officers.

Cookman said the additional officers will be patrolling Homecoming to ease the strain on fellow officers, who won’t have to take such long shifts.

“The actual officers on the street would be about 30 per unit. It’s a bump up of about 30 more than we had last year,” he said.

“It helps lessen our fatigue, which translates to everyone’s demeanor as well.”

As with Homecoming 2006, surveillance cameras and additional lighting will be installed on Aberdeen Street. Surveillance cameras will record the street from Saturday afternoon to Sunday morning.

Cookman said the surveillance cameras received a positive response last year.

“They were well received by everyone last year, gave them a nice feeling that if something did happen, the police would have the possibility of capturing it,” he said.

“Also, it would dissuade individuals from doing anything wrong.” Cookman said providing accommodations and food for the additional officers only adds to the cost.

Last year, costs for Kingston police were about $150,000 and costs for additional officers were about $140,000.

“It will cost us, but it is up to the chief of [the Toronto police] and the commissioner of the OPP to determine what they want to bill the Kingston police for services rendered,” he said.

“It could be zero, it could be a quarter of a million.” Cookman said the extra costs spent on Homecoming are a strain on the Kingston force’s budget. “It’s totally money that is not accounted for,” he said. “This is just coming out of a pocket that does not exist, so any break that any other [police] agency can give us is gratefully acknowledged.”

—With files from Anna Mehler Paperny

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