Kingston Police and Kingston Bylaw Enforcement have stepped up enforcement against illegal parties in the University District, including implementing surveillance cameras at various intersections, increased patrols at strategic times, and stiffer fines.
This comes following several weeks of large parties in the district, sometimes numbering as many as 5000 attendees, with escalating incidents of hazardous and violent behaviour. Since early September, partiers have been observed fighting, scaling buildings and hydro poles, kicking at passing vehicles, throwing glass bottles into the air, and assaulting police officers.
“Kingston Police and City of Kingston Bylaw Enforcement had another busy evening in the University District on Friday, Sept. 17,” said Kingston Police in a statement on Saturday evening describing the stepped up enforcement. “With officers dedicated to enforcing the University District Safety Initiative (UDSI), public safety was the priority and all streets were kept clear and open for normal vehicular traffic and emergency responders.”
Occupants of one residence in particular, noted by police as a repeat offender for hosting large parties over the past month, and having already been warned by police on previous occasions, received thousands of dollars in fines on Friday.
“At around 11:30 P.M. both Kingston Police and Bylaw Enforcement responded to a build-up of pedestrians at the intersection of University Ave and Earl St,” said Kingston Police.
“The crowd was quickly dispersed but officers heard extremely loud stereo music and what appeared to a large indoor party in one of the corner residences,” Kingston Police continued. “The side entrance revealed a number of people on the porch, with the residence door wide open and a crowd of people in the kitchen.”
Kingston Police say they identified three of the tenants, who stated to police they did not feel they were over the COVID-19 mandated limit of 25 people indoors.
As the tenants accompanied a Kingston Police supervisor throughout the main and upper floors of the house, 25 people were counted in the space, apparently within the prescribed indoor limit.
When the officer asked if the residence had a basement, police say the officer was advised it was “more of a cellar”, and that no one would be down there.
Instead, the officer located four other partygoers hiding in the basement, including one behind a hot water tank, bringing the total to 29 people inside the residence, police say.
None of the occupants were seen wearing masks and social distancing was not being practiced, according to police. The police supervisor then declared the gathering as being an aggravated nuisance party.
The three tenants were issued an order to comply and all received $2,000 Administrative Monetary Penalties (AMPs) through the bylaw and as a result of Mayor Paterson’s recent declaration of an Emergency Order.
Nine other partygoers were also issued the same $2,000 penalties and the party was dispersed. Altogether, $24,000 in penalties were issued between Kingston Police and Bylaw Enforcement.
The Bylaw team was provided with the names of the three tenants, said Kingston Police, to be further investigated and possibly charged under the Reopening of Ontario Act for being hosts/organizers, which carries a minimum $10,000 fine each.
In total, Kingston Police and Bylaw Enforcement responded to a total of 50 noise complaints on Friday night in the University District.
Total charges and penalties between the two agencies were:
– 38 Liquor Licence Act offences
– 31 open alcohol
– 4 underage drinking
– 3 public intoxication arrests and charges
– 12 aggravated nuisance party AMPs
– 7 amplified sound AMPs
– 1 yelling/shouting AMP
– 2 Criminal Code charges
A total of 4 arrests were made that evening, police said.
Sergeant Steve Koopman, one of the supervisors responsible for the coordination and enforcement of the UDSI, stated, “I am highly impressed by the professionalism, dedication, and restraint shown by all Kingston Police officers and special constables who have worked in the University District over the last two weeks.”
Sgt. Koopman said the assistance and partnership with Bylaw Enforcement teams has been “crucial in creating an effective response to the large number of partygoers during the student move-in period that unfortunately saw the closing of streets, binge drinking, crimes against both property and persons, and even assaultive and resistive behaviour towards officers.”
“Since September 4 UDSI enforcement teams have been able to keep the streets clear, ensure public safety of all in the area, effectively enforce applicable violations, and respond to complaints in a timely manner,” said Koopman.
“This is an unprecedented period with students returning to campus and classes for the first time in almost a year-and-a-half while still in the midst of a pandemic. And while many of the students and partygoers have been respectful we have also seen an increase in belligerent, non- compliant, aggressive and even assaultive behaviour towards our members.”
Koopman said that some partiers have turned relatively minor incidents into much more serious ones. “Some of these individuals have turned a simple liquor or bylaw offence into a criminal arrest and charge due to their actions,” Koopman said. “To see our members disrespected and concerned for their personal safety during these events is discouraging.”
Koopman said he hopes students, guests and revellers will take the opportunity for some introspection, and find ways to enjoy themselves legally and responsibly, and to practice all COVID-19 safety recommendations given by KFL&A Public Health.