The Mounted Unit of the Kingston Police has been a popular sight downtown for more than 20 years. A group of community partners has launched a campaign aimed at ensuring the tradition of mounted police continues in Kingston well into the future.
Murney is the current Police horse that patrols the city with rider Constable Sarah Groenewegen. Kingston Police say the pair are seen by many as a “valued and unique member of the Kingston Police Service and the community.” Murney is depended upon to perform highly visible proactive policing and enhance the important police complement on city streets, according to a release from Kingston Police, dated Monday, Feb. 22, 2021.
The Kingston Police Mounted Unit helps prevent crime and supports public relations with residents and visitors. Kingston Police say the Mounted Unit is visible, maneuverable, approachable, and deters crime in the downtown core by facilitating positive, friendly interactions between community members and police. The Mounted Unit also has a significant height advantage as it allows the officer to sit approximately 10 feet tall offering a great line of sight. Additionally, she is six times more visible than an officer on foot, according to Kingston Police.
Continuing this unique Kingston tradition costs money. Kingston Police say $75,000 in funding is needed to ensure Murney can continue to patrol in downtown Kingston over the next two years.
“We would like to thank our community for supporting and finding a collaborative way in order to keep Murney on Patrol,” says Inspector Matt Funnell, Kingston Police Operational Support. “While we recognize the financial constraints we are facing, we also see the opportunities and benefits of having Murney not only as a method of deploying our officers in a densely populated urban landscape but also a means of engaging our community as well as having positive interactions with some of our most vulnerable population.”
Constable Sarah Groenewegen has recently been nominated for Police Services Hero of the Year. At the time of the nomination Groenewegen said “It is an honour to be recognized and nominated for the Police Hero Award. I am very thankful to hear the positive comments about the work that I have done with Murney and the influence that I have had within the Community.”
In November 2019, there was public outcry after the removal of the mounted unit was outlined as a cost-cutting measure. After the announcement during 2020 city budget deliberations, Kingston residents were quick to respond with letters, social media comments and an online petition with over 1100 signatures.
“When news first broke that the Mounted Unit might be discontinued, the community was clear that this would be a significant loss,” says Mayor Paterson. “I’m pleased that we can now offer a way for the community to support the unit in ways that are convenient for donors. There’s no doubt that Murney provides unique value in the Kingston community and creates space for learning opportunities and a greater dialogue among residents and police.”
With the support of donors, the Mounted Unit was created in 1998 when the Downtown Kingston! Business Improvement Area (BIA) approached then Police Chief Bill Closs, according to the release.
“Many community members have reached out to Downtown Kingston! BIA to express their desire to support this initiative,” says Michèle Langlois, Interim Executive Director of the BIA. “The Mounted Unit plays a huge role in Community Policing efforts within our city, and Murney and Sarah are vitally important to our businesses, our citizens and our visitors. There is a sense of pride, and the reality of great visibility, that is evident when we see them on patrol. We believe this Mounted Unit greatly augments, and enhances, the important police complement on our city streets.”
Donations can be made to the City of Kingston – Murney on Patrol fund by:
- Online donation: Visit and donate securely through CanadaHelps. You will receive a tax receipt by email within minutes of making your donation.
- E-transfer donation: Send an e-transfer to [email protected]. Please ensure to include your name, mailing address and email in the message field if you would like a tax receipt for income tax purposes.
- Telephone donation with credit card: City Payment Centre staff are available by phone at 613-546-4291 x1240 to accept your donation. Please provide your name and mailing address if you require a tax receipt for income tax purposes.
- Due to COVID-19 protocols and to minimize in-person contact, online, e-transfer and telephone donations are strongly encouraged, however, if an in-person donation is required, you can visit the City Hall Payment Centre or any local branch of the TD Bank to make your donation. Please provide your name and mailing address if you require a tax receipt for income tax purposes. Please note that access to these facilities will be subject to ongoing pandemic protocols.