Police to take preventative measures for Homecoming weekend

Police will use social media to monitor potential disturbances

A Kingston Police Force officer pours out a bottle of wine during last year’s Fauxcoming.
A Kingston Police Force officer pours out a bottle of wine during last year’s Fauxcoming.

The Kingston Police Force (KPF) is taking a preventative approach to this year’s Homecoming celebrations, with a special focus on using social media.

Steve Koopman, media relations officer for the KPF, said that the police will monitor events in the areas around campus, football games and on social media platforms, such as Twitter and Facebook, to predict problems before they arise.

“If we see things popping up, then we can proactively try to nip it in the bud,” he said.

However, he added that the police have no special powers or authority to access private information.

“Anybody can do what we do,” he said. “It’s just a case of open-source information that’s being posted on social media, blogs ― anything to that effect.”

He said preventative measures are far preferable to reactive measures, since they typically require fewer officers, prevent property damage and limit the charges students incur.

Although he can’t speak on specific deployment numbers, Koopman said the number of police officers patrolling student housing areas will increase during the Homecoming weekends.

According to Koopman, police strategies will remain flexible and will depend entirely on the events of the weekend.

“The strategy, in regards to how they are deployed, when, where and in what format, is all up in the air,” he said. “If anything, it’s going to be dictated by what others initially do in terms of our response.”

Koopman said the police are optimistic, since the numbers of alcohol-related offences have decreased for the past two years during Homecoming weekends.

If the trend continues, he said, the police may reduce their physical presence this weekend. However, he added that the police will still be prepared to deploy officers if the situation changes.

He said the police have consulted with Campus Security to coordinate their activities.

According to Koopman, the police also met with Queen’s representatives earlier this year.

They spoke about emergency services in the university area, Koopman said, and discussed the role of the Campus Observation Room (COR) and local detoxification services in Kingston.

“We don’t pretend to be the end-all be-all solution. We are a piece of the puzzle,” he said.

Koopman said the police hope to approach students or other party-goers and let them know they might be breaking a bylaw or provincial statute before they are forced to give out tickets.

“I think the important thing for us is to make sure things don’t get out of hand or out of control sooner than later,” he said.

Koopman said the police will continue their zero-tolerance policy for liquor violations, so students who carry open alcohol in public or drink while underage can expect to be ticketed.

“I think students will appreciate that at least we are being consistent in our approach,” he said.

If students enjoy themselves responsibly, he said, and let Kingston residents feel the weekend has been fairly normal, the Homecoming celebration will be better for everyone.

“If [students] don’t commit these offences, which we believe are pretty easy to avoid, then everyone wins.” David Patterson, the director of Queen’s Campus Security and Emergency Services, said Campus Security will have extra officers patrolling houses and apartments during Homecoming.

“As in previous years, we will have a special patrol scheduled to monitor the properties owned by Queen’s,” he said.

He said the Kingston Police and Campus Security will collaborate during Homecoming to monitor the areas around campus.

“Regular discussions between the Kingston Police and Campus Security are ongoing, ensuring campus safety,” he said.

“The near-campus area is part of their regular City of Kingston patrol duties.”

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