Complexity of policing strains balance between costs, service delivery — Kingston Police 2023 annual report

New vehicles have been added to the Kingston Police fleet. Photo via Kingston Police.

“Policing has become a complex process,” and with resources stretched to meet the community’s needs, “it is a very difficult balance to control costs and provide the services the community expects,” according to Kingston’s Chief of Police.

On Thursday, Jun. 20, 2024, Chief Scott Fraser released his first annual report to the Kingston Police Services Board (KPSB) since being officially appointed. The 2023 Annual Report notes that serious issues such as “unprecedented” homelessness, mental health crises, and addiction calls have strained the balance between cost and service delivery. But, he stated, “the members of the Kingston Police answered the call. Our sworn staff responded to thousands of calls while being supported behind the scenes by our dedicated and competent civilian staff.” 

The following summary is but a snippet of the full 23-page report.

Staffing

According to the report, as of December 31, 2023, Kingston Police had an authorized strength of 209 sworn officers, plus an additional ten to backfill for long-term absences, for a total of 219. At the time, there were also 61 full-time civilian employees and 37 part-time employees, totalling 317 members. 

The 2023 statistics for sworn members indicate a representation of 81 per cent male and 19 per cent female, four per cent visible minority, and one per cent Indigenous. Among civilian members, 41 per cent are male, 59 per cent female, and 7.1 per cent visible minorities. Fraser notes, “There is a vast array of languages known across our service, such as Serbian, Spanish, Portuguese, Mandarin, German, Hindi, American Sign Language, Greek, Polish, and Gujarati.” 

The report states that in 2023, 32 new employees were hired: 11 new sworn recruits, three experienced officers, one full-time civilian, and 17 part-time civilians. Nine retirements (eight sworn, one civilian) and eight resignations (four sworn, four civilian) occurred. 

Organization

The report describes each office and unit of Kingston Police, beginning with the administrative support offices.

A chart from the report provides a look at the organization of the Kingston Police.

The Court Services office, comprised of both sworn and civilian staff, “worked tirelessly to process the immense volume of administrative documentation required to support the provincial and criminal charges laid by officers,” details the reoort.  Working with the Kingston Crown attorney’s office, this unit deals with over 50 new criminal briefs in an average week. Technology is being implemented to streamline workflow and improve efficiency to ensure a timely and adequate disclosure process. 

Fraser notes in the report that civilian front desk and records staff “can be found working diligently both with the public and behind the scenes.” The front desk staff receive a “tremendous” number of phone inquiries each day and deal directly with members of the public in the front lobby of Police Headquarters at 705 Division Street. All non-emergency calls and reports come through this office. Records staff work behind the scenes to ensure that all aspects of police record keeping comply with ministry standards and the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. They are also responsible for processing thousands of criminal record checks for the public each year. 

The three-person Training Unit provides class-leading in-house training in compliance with the demands of the new Community Safety and Policing Act, in addition to coordinating all other training for Kingston Police officers offered around the province. The report notes that this unit is also responsible for ensuring new officers are prepared to attend the Ontario Police College and qualified to begin their assignment in the Patrol Division upon their return. 

The report explains that the Alternate Response Unit (ARU) continues to investigate criminal matters that require lengthy followups and interviews, freeing up patrol officers to respond to priority and emergency calls for service.

According to the report, the Property and Stores Unit has “dual and critical responsibilities.” They are responsible for the intake and tracking of all evidence in an investigation, to ensure a reliable chain of evidence for the court in compliance with ministry standards. Additionally, they are responsible for issuing and tracking all equipment and uniforms issued to officers. The report notes that the requisition, approval, and ordering process from suppliers will soon be digitized to ensure transparency and efficiency. 

Fraser writes that regarding Patrol and Communications, the Kingston Police Communications Centre is designated as a Primary Public Safety Answering Point; it answers all 9-1-1 calls for Kingston Police, Ontario Provincial Police, Military Police, Kingston Fire and Rescue, and Ambulance. The report says that in 2023, members in the communications centre answered 71,770 emergency 9-1-1 calls, an increase of 14.10 per cent compared to 62,987 in 2022. 

The report states that patrol officers work under the Community Outreach and Support Team and Mobile Crisis Rapid Response Team models (the latter partners a mental health worker from Addiction and Mental Health Services with a uniformed patrol officer). “In 2023, we saw a decrease from 2022 in mental health apprehensions by 26.1 per cent, and by 32.31 per cent in mental health calls for service, demonstrating a positive impact in these areas,” the report notes.

Officers within the Patrol Division assisted in expanding the Mobile Crisis Rapid Response Team, Carbine Operator, Incident Command, and Emergency Response Unit Alternate Programs. 14 additional officers received training to be deployed with a mental health worker, three additional officers were certified as carbine operators, and one officer received training and designation as an Incident Commander. As reported in a previous Kingstonist article, a Special Constable on patrol during dayshifts was very well received.

Operational support 

The report notes the Community Oriented Response and Engagement (CORE) Unit once again attended many community events throughout 2023. The annual Youth in Policing initiative saw six area youth experience a rewarding summer employment experience. The first annual Kingston Police Fun Fair was “a tremendous success, providing a free day of fun and entertainment for thousands of Kingston families.” The development of Kingston Police Liaison Teams, led by the CORE Unit, has had “resounding success” in building relationships with various community groups and student populations. The team’s efforts have had a noticeable, positive impact during labour disputes, protests and rallies, and large gatherings. 

Investigative services 

The Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Unit saw a large volume of investigations, including several stranger-on-stranger sexual assaults. “These are the files indicative of serial predators and cause for significant alarm,” notes the report. “Through the diligent work of the Detectives, they could identify and charge those responsible. “

Major Crimes continued to work on cold case files, including a historic vicious sexual assault that occurred in the late 1990s. Items were sent for DNA testing, and an offender was identified and subsequently charged. 

The General Investigations Unit was inundated with car break-ins and telecommunication wire thefts throughout the city, causing significant disruption in services to residences and businesses, according to the report. Several persons were identified, and after a lengthy investigation, they were arrested and charged. 

The Fraud Unit was involved in a multi-provincial, multi-agency grandparent scheme project that utilized agencies from Ontario and Quebec. “After a very successful simultaneous takedown, we have noticed a significant decrease here in Kingston,” says Chief Fraser. 

“Call volume remains high, and all the units are extremely busy,” he notes. “They often assist each other when high-priority cases come in.”

Budget

The general operating budget for Kingston Police as of December 31, 2023.

Exhibits attached to the report provide a detailed budget with an overall net operating position reflecting 100.59 per cent of the total budget as of December 31, 2023. 

Concerning the financial results, the report states that most of the revenues and expenditures are within budget. However, as reported last quarter and years prior, the un-budgeted costs incurred by policing post-secondary student mass gatherings put significant pressure on Kingston Police’s fiscal circumstances, “making it challenging to manage expenditures and remain within the budget.” At the end of December, the total cost of policing these gatherings was $581,000 compared to approximately $1.2 million in 2022, the report notes.

The chief notes that while expenditures are significantly lower compared to the prior year, year-end results include $147,000 of costs to police the St. Patrick’s Day events within the University District, $61,000 incurred during September (move-in weekend and weekends leading up to Homecoming), and $373,000 of expenditures incurred during the Homecoming weekend. “Without these un-budgeted costs, staff would have achieved a year-end surplus, staying within the approved budget… Staff implemented many measures to reduce expenses and manage discretionary spending where possible, and they were able to utilize additional grants and other funding opportunities to limit the overall impact on the budget,” according to Fraser.

Public complaints

The report states that the Professional Standards Bureau received 72 public complaints about Kingston Police officers from January 1 to December 31, 2023. These included 17 for discreditable conduct, one for unnecessary exercise of authority/use of force, five for neglect of duty, one for insubordination, and three for service/policy complaints. The report notes that the Kingston Police Professional Standards Bureau has concluded all investigations for 2023.

Calls for service 

In 2023, Kingston Police officers responded to 48,598 calls for service, which increases to 53,993 when online reports are added. Front line was dispatched to 28,928 calls for service in 2023, compared to 28,259 calls for service in 2022, resulting in a 2.37 per cent increase. In 2023, members in the communications centre answered 71,770 emergency 9-1-1 calls for service, compared to 62,897 in 2022.

Fraser’s report concludes by thanking members of the Kingston community “for their tireless efforts to keep Kingston safe.” The chief expresses confidence that the Kingston Police Services Board is considering the community’s best interest when establishing priorities: “Members of the service are now focused on their tasks at hand, and with the ongoing support of the Kingston City Police Association, we are always working towards a better Kingston and a better Kingston Police. Thank you for taking the time to review the 2023 Annual Report, and please be safe!”

The entire Report can be viewed here .

The Kingston Police Services Board meets on the third Thursday of every month at 12 noon in the William Hackett Boardroom at Kingston Police Headquarters, 705 Division Street.

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