After discussion between senior staff and much public outcry, it would seem that Murney’s job with Kingston Police mounted unit is stable once again following the city’s 2020 budget conversations.
The public first heard about the potential retirement of Murney a few weeks ago when the removal of the mounted unit was outlined as a cost-cutting measure. Kingston Police were seeking a 3.78 per cent budget increase to add, in part, 10 sworn officers.
Once word got out, though, residents were quick to respond with letters, social media comments and an online petition with over 1100 signatures.
On Monday, Nov. 25, 2019 during the first night of budget discussions, Kingston Police Chief Antje McNeely was peppered with questions from council about the loss of the mounted unit.
Bruce Davis, a downtown business owner, spoke to council in delegation during the meeting, urging council to find a solution. Councillors suggested a variety of ideas to maintain the unit, including reducing a vehicle purchase and private funding.
It seems the calls of the public were well heard — Mayor Bryan Paterson shared at the start of the second round of budget discussions on Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2019 that the mounted unit wouldn’t be ending service.
“Senior city staff and the chief the deputy chief have had some conversations and there’s a comfort level that we could keep the keep the mounted unit,” Paterson said following the Tuesday night meeting. “There’s a feeling that within the current police budget and the current city budget that we can make this work.”
Mayor Paterson noted that funding may additionally be found through community partnerships, donations and sponsorships in support of the mounted unit.
“We’re going to move ahead for 2020 and hopefully then we’ll have a path for that we can continue to keep the mounted unit from there,” he added.
For Davis and many downtown business owners, maintaining the mounted unit is as much about community as it is about police presence in the downtown core.
“It may seem like a small thing, but Murney has a big place in downtown and I’m glad to see that her service will continue,” Davis said following hearing that Murney’s time with the force wasn’t coming to an end. “The mounted unit does a great job connecting with people and that makes our city safer.”