Kingston Police Liaison Team aims to mitigate problems before they occur

Members of the Kingston Police Services Board listen to a presentation on the activities of the Police Liaison Team given by Staff Sergeant Carla Stacey (on screen) at a meeting held Thursday, Feb. 15, 2024. Photo by Michelle Dorey Forestell/Kingstonist.

A Police Liaison Team (PLT) has become a key part of police planning and response to major events and conflicts in the City, the Kingston Police Services Board (PSB) heard at its meeting on Thursday, Feb. 15, 2024.

At that meeting, Staff Sergeant Carla Stacey made a PLT presentation, explaining that members of the Kingston Police Community Oriented Response and Engagement (CORE) Unit, in collaboration with the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) PLT and Ottawa PLT, have begun to approach large unsanctioned street parties differently.

Members of Kingston Police CORE attended the OPP Police Liaison Team training in February 2023. Kingston Police began to incorporate the PLT approach in their response to the community, including the addition of a PLT plan for anticipated large street gatherings in the University District around St. Patrick’s Day, Stacey reported.

 “Utilizing the expertise of OPP and Ottawa PLT members, we began to understand and appreciate the value in this new approach,” Stacey said, emphasizing that the teams are focused on proactive relationship-building as a means to assist in resolving issues. PLT members work to establish and maintain open and transparent lines of communication with all stakeholders who might be affected, directly or indirectly, by major events. Their job is to dialogue and work with all of those affected by an event to facilitate peace, according to Stacey’s presentation. 

By using effective negotiation and mediation techniques, PLT intervention is a useful way to communicate and avoid conflict, Stacey said.

“We have two members of our unit who attended the PLT training in February 2023, [and] we currently have two more that are scheduled for next week to attend training,” she explained.

“We’ve been incorporating a PLT approach to community events, particularly in Kingston for St. Patrick’s Day and Homecoming. And we included it in our operational planning as a means to mitigate ahead of time for effective results at some of these gatherings.”

Stacey noted that the other “key factor” is the Report of the Public Inquiry into the 2022 Public Order Emergency by The Honourable Paul S. Rouleau, Commissioner.

“Some recommendations were brought forward, and several of them were related to PLT and how services are expected to have PLT resources available to them, whether it’s within their organization or reaching out to other organizations,” she detailed, noting that a total of 56 recommendations were made, with four referencing PLT, which Kingston Police embraced.

“Since March 2023,” Stacey said, “our Kingston Police PLT members have been engaged in labour disputes, political protests, freedom rallies, slow-[roll convoys], and civil rights demonstrations, and are continuing to build relationships with citizens from vast and diverse communities throughout our city.”

Stacey listed some of the benefits of the PLT so far to Kingston:

Members of the Kingston PLT went door to door identifying themselves and letting student residents know what to expect on Homecoming Weekend 2023. Kingstonist file photo.

Recommendation 16 from the Report of the Public Inquiry into the 2022 Public Order Emergency recommends the formation of partnerships among PLT in neighbouring communities. Kingston Police have partnered with neighbouring police services to support each other with PLT responses. Stacey noted, “Gananoque Police Service and Brockville Police Service will work with Kingston Police to build on the foundation of PLT that has been started, and together we will continue to provide this important police resource to our citizens.”

In her presentation, Stacey included some research on the effectiveness of PLT. According to Social Identity Theory, collective action in a crowd, rather than being “mindless,” actually reflects a socially determined identity that can be shaped and reshaped by interactions with police. Approaches to policing based upon the Social Identity Theory drove a highly effective crowd management approach that moved police away from a focus on coercion toward a response based on facilitation and dialogue. 

Mayor Bryan Paterson asked Stacey for some examples of what the PLT does in advance of a major event, as a best practice.

She used the example of a labour strike, saying, “If we anticipate or know or have received information that a labour strike is going to occur, then we would reach out ahead of any dates the labour strike would start, make connections with an individual, introduce ourselves, offer information on legislation related to labour strikes — for example, traffic concerns, those sorts of things — and then also offer ourselves to them.”

“If a concern comes up — [for example, we had] some issues with traffic being backed up for an ambulance — I would reach out to my contact [in the union], advise [them] of what’s going on, [and] come to some sort of discussion on how we can resolve it. More often than not, they’re very supportive and ensure that resources are available to everybody, such as traffic flows,” Stacey shared.

Chief of Police Scott Fraser gave anecdotal evidence of how successful reaching out to people ahead of time has been, especially at Homecoming. He stated that a large group of 10 or 12 students was walking down the street, one of whom was carrying an open beer. When the students came around a corner and saw the police, they began to make fun of the one with the beer, saying, “’Ha, we told you so, it’s against the rules they gave us.’ So they were really policing themselves, and that’s what we want to see more of.”

Fraser thanked Stacey for piloting the project and making it a success. 

Agendas and reports for all Police Services Board meetings can be found on the PSB meetings page of the Kingston Police Website. Meetings generally take place on the third Thursday of each month, starting at 12 noon in the William Hackett Boardroom at Kingston Police Headquarters (705 Division Street), unless otherwise indicated on the agenda.

One thought on “Kingston Police Liaison Team aims to mitigate problems before they occur

  • Hats off to the police. Building relationships with the general community and in the example, with Queen’s students, producing positive outcomes. ‘Social Identity Theory’, who knew? If only Queen’s had a Psychology department it, through the administration, could provide similar leadership in the lecture hall and by working with student government leaders, help the police. Perhaps faculty training courses could be made available.

Leave a Reply

You cannot copy content from this page, please share the link instead!