Kingston Police Chief discusses quarterly data, St. Patrick’s Day improvements

Two Kingston Police cruisers sporting the force’s recently unveiled redesign parked outside of Kingston Police Headquarters on Division Street. Photo via Kingston Police.

Kingston Police Chief Scott Fraser addressed his latest written reports at the monthly meeting of the Kingston Police Services Board (KPSB) on Thursday, Apr. 18, 2024, comparing results from last year to this year and observing several improvements.

First, the chief shared his thoughts on the statistical data collected in the first quarter of 2024. Fraser and Lillian Murdock, acting Deputy Chief, had published their Quarterly Statistical Report for the first part of 2024 (January to March) in advance of the April 18 board meeting.

The report delineates the calls for service this year and the number of times force was used to subdue a suspect. However, Fraser reminded the board and public attendees, “We’re always cautious about giving you a snapshot [of statistics]; it’s just a short period of time.”

Overall, there has been a decrease in calls for service this year compared to last year. While there were 10,941 calls for service in the first quarter of 2023, in the same time period in 2024 there were 10,251 calls — 690 fewer, a 6.3 per cent decrease.

The report warns that these figures are for information only and that caution should be exercised when interpreting them. They represent a snapshot in time and are subject to change as they relate to ongoing investigations.

This chart from the report breaks down crimes by their type and specifics, comparing them to the same time period last year. Chart via KPSB documents.

Crimes against people remained nearly the same between the two years: 362 in 2023 and 363 in 2024, an increase of only 0.2 per cent. Crimes against property increased by seven per cent.

Other Criminal Code offences decreased by two (0.66 percent), drug offences were down by two (0.66 per cent), and traffic Criminal Code offences increased by six (19 per cent).

Crimes against people include sex offences, which were down 34 per cent from 44 to 29 at the same time last year. Assaults have increased seven per cent, from 48 to 68.

One significant decrease occurred in instances of robbery, down a whopping 70 per cent: from 17 at this time last year to only five in the first part of 2024. Criminal harassment is also down 36 per cent from 33 incidents to 21, and harassing phone calls are down 12 per cent from 78 to 69. However, threats have increased 42 per cent, from 48 to 68.

Crimes against property include break-ins, which have decreased by 25 percent from 155 to 116 compared to the same period last year. Vehicle theft is down 24 percent from 45 to 34. Meanwhile, other thefts have increased 17 per cent, from 692 in 2023 to 812 in 2024.

Mischief, which Section 430 (1) of the Criminal Code defines as “the wilful destruction of property, making it dangerous or useless to others,” is also up 25 percent, from 196 to 245. This charge can also be laid if a person obstructs or interferes with other people’s lawful use and enjoyment of property.

“You can certainly see [in the data] areas where we have increases, like ‘mischiefs.’ We see a lot of that with recidivism: the same people do the same thing repeatedly. We are chasing the same people doing these things,” Fraser told the board.

“We’re happy when we see robberies are down from 17 to five,” he noted. However, assaults “went up again,” he said, “which is something that we’re working on.” He attributed this increase to “a lot of intimate partner violence.” 

“We are working our way through all of this stuff, but there are always trends that are up and down; we’re trying to stay on top of those in relation to our quarterly stats,” Fraser stated.

The report carefully notes that “through investigation, it may be determined that the classification must be re-coded.” For example, a criminal harassment call may, upon further investigation, be re-coded to “Harassing Phone Calls.”

Use of force 

The statistical report indicates that the statistics capture all use-of-force options exercised by all responding officers, and it should be noted that more than one use-of-force option was used during most incidents.

Acting Deputy Chief Murdock explained in an email, “The term ‘team report’ pertains to either the Kingston Police Emergency Response Unit or two or more officers acting in coordination in response to a single event. The Ministry of the Solicitor General establishes guidelines for reporting incidents involving the use of force. These guidelines delineate the circumstances under which a team report is appropriate and when an individual team member must file a separate report. “

According to the statistical report, the figures refer to 13 total reports submitted regarding use of force: 10 team reports and three individual reports. Team reports may encompass multiple officers, meaning a single report could cover several officers’ actions.

As outlined in the report, there were 13 incidents total, consisting of ten team reports and three individual reports. This chart illustrates the 15 specific use-of-force methods applied. OC Spray stands for “Oleoresin Capsicum Spray” (also known as “pepper spray”), a chemical compound recognized to be a significant skin and mucus tissue irritant.

The report also notes that de-escalation was attempted in eight reported incidents. In the five incidents where it was not tried, de-escalation was not possible either due to immediate action being required or due to imminent threat, according to police. 

The report also points out that all use-of-force incidents involved suspects who were assaultive and/or suspected to be armed with weapons.

Regarding the use of force, the chief said the team reports are usually filed by “The Emergency Response Unit when they’re out executing warrants. We have 10 team reports compared to 17 reports last year, and three individual reports this year compared to 12 last year. So [we are] continually ensuring compliance with the legislation and reporting. And once again, all of these [statistics] get monitored by our training department and our senior staff.”

Saint Patrick’s Day report

Regarding policing around the St. Patrick’s Day gatherings, Fraser said, “We’re extremely satisfied to see where we’re going with our police liaison team and enforcement team strategy, with our relationship with the [Ontario Provincial Police] and their public order and crowd management team that was here to give us a hand.”

The chief extended emphatic thanks to Queen’s University “because we’ve been getting more access to the university, which is allowing us more opportunity to speak to the students and get our messaging across that we’re not the big bad guy; we’re trying to make sure everybody’s safe.”

Police walking the streets of the University District during St. Patrick’s Day weekend 2024. Photo by Cris Vilela/Kingstonist.

He noted that “this year, the compliance from the students was something I’d never seen,” and that this cooperation helped ensure safety during an occasion of celebration.  

“We’re starting to see compliance,” Fraser said. “As we always say, Rome wasn’t built in a day: we can’t change yesterday, but we’re starting to get the messaging through. Even our enforcement statistics are down… and I applaud the students… because they are starting to follow the rules.”

He went on, “Despite the fact that it’s a large gathering… our goal is to shift from enforcement to management… As with anything, where there’s a crowd that large, they can change at a moment’s notice. That’s why we deploy in the manner we do, and we put a lot of planning into it, [which] leads to good results.”

Next, he applauded the police members: “Sergeant Huffman putting together our matrix, and our incident commanders—we had a large number of them involved on the ground. We had all the inspectors working either on the ground or in the command centre. And it was really well done.” 

Fraser noted that the $175,000 price tag was “thankfully” in this year’s budget.

“At the end of the day,” he acknowledged, “it’s a lot of money, but we have to be prepared; we can’t not be there. So we are looking at every way we can to reduce the costs, and we’ll continue to do that as we move into September move-in and Homecoming.”

Board member Professor Christian Leuprecht commended the “effort of allocating more resources effectively to proactive policing, and for the way you’re able to articulate the benefits, both in terms of the resource economies and efficiencies achieved, as well as the overall benefits for public safety and for the the social fabric within Kingston associated with those efforts to proactive policing.”

The Chief agreed with this assessment and said, “Our staff and the stuff that they’re doing is remarkable… I’ve only been here a short period of time, but Saint Patrick’s Day this year was a marked departure from the attitude of most people from last year.”

“If nobody believes a word I say,” he added, “all you have to do is look at a picture of ‘before and after,’ last year and this year. It looked like a bomb went off last year — and this year I don’t even think they needed the street sweeper.”

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

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