Sustaining a policing purpose

Greg Harbec
June 01, 2010
By Greg Harbec
From its humble beginnings as one of Canada’s oldest police forces, Kingston Police Force (KPF) members have established a long and proud tradition of serving the community. With an evolving history of steady growth and constant transformation, the force continues to adapt to social change and embrace developing technology. Kingston was the first capital of the United Province of Canada and the home (and now resting place) of Canada’s first prime minister, Sir. John A. Macdonald. Located on the eastern end of Lake Ontario at the gateway to the Thousand Islands, it is renowned as the fresh-water sailing capital of the world and offers a myriad of scenic boat tours, sailing and fishing opportunities. On shore it boasts a great selection of restaurants and cafes, live theatre, museums, art galleries and shops, walking trails, musical performances and other recreational activities too numerous to list.

From its humble beginnings as one of Canada’s oldest police forces, Kingston Police Force (KPF) members have established a long and proud tradition of serving the community. With an evolving history of steady growth and constant transformation, the force continues to adapt to social change and embrace developing technology.

Kingston was the first capital of the United Province of Canada and the home (and now resting place) of Canada’s first prime minister, Sir. John A. Macdonald. Located on the eastern end of Lake Ontario at the gateway to the Thousand Islands, it is renowned as the fresh-water sailing capital of the world and offers a myriad of scenic boat tours, sailing and fishing opportunities. On shore it boasts a great selection of restaurants and cafes, live theatre, museums, art galleries and shops, walking trails, musical performances and other recreational activities too numerous to list.

The KPF expanded in 1999 after the City of Kingston amalgamated with Pittsburgh and Kingston townships. It is now responsible for policing 117,000 people spread over a 450 sq. km. area.

Encompassing both urban and rural areas, Kingston is home to Canada Forces Base Kingston, the Royal Military College, Queens University, St. Lawrence College, Fort Henry (the only UNESCO World Heritage site in Ontario) and seven federal penitentiaries.

h3. Unique

Kingston is unique in Canada in that it is now and has been almost from the beginning a garrison, university and penitentiary town. These institutions have in some respects served to shape the police force and the community. Because of the demands placed on it by the area’s unique demography, the KPF has often been called upon to deal with major incidents not common in municipalities of comparable size.

In 1984, a joint forces operation consisting of members of the KPF, OPP, RCMP and Correctional Service of Canada formed a squad to handle all criminal matters occurring within area penitentiaries. There are currently three KPF officers assigned to the “Pen Squad,” as eve front-line officers from multiple responses to the same incident.

Through considerations such as analyzing crime, mobilizing analysis, mobilization of community partners, problem-solving techniques, enforcement and public education, the Kingston Police will provide more sustainable solutions to crime and other problems that go beyond the traditional reactive law enforcement approach.

The force will endeavour to continue meeting community needs “in a competent, courteous and co-operative way,” says Kingston Police Services Board Chair Carol Allison-Burra, “with a renewed sense of commitment... and a growing capacity to deliver adequate and effective policing services.”

h3. Protecting children online

The Ontario attorney general awarded the KPF a $172,235 grant last year to fight the sexual exploitation of children over the Internet and combat other online crimes. The money was used to buy new computer equipment and pay for specialized training. Coupled with advanced investigative processes, the grant has made the force leaders in “e-crimes” investigation and making the Internet safer for children.

Det/Cst Stephanie Morgan was chosen in January to fill a new position dedicated to eliminating the sexual exploitation of children. “Ten years ago we may have had a person who was interested or curious about images of children but really never had the means to access those images, or it was certainly more difficult,” notes Morgan.

“Now with a click of the mouse a person can have access to thousands of those images and download them in seconds.” sharing information

The KPF has officially launched a new corporate web site which will enhance community awareness and information sharing. It will not only increase the amount of information shared with the public, such as crime prevention tips for various demographic groups, but will also provide up to date digital mapping of crime throughout the city.

“It is our hope that this data will further benefit groups such as Neighbourhood Watch,” says Tanner. “It will increase community awareness and community mobilization efforts towards crime prevention and ultimately further reduce crime. By working closely with our community and with individual concerned citizens, we will make Kingston the very safest that it can be.”

h3. Domestic violence memorial

With help from a federal government grant, the KPF hosted a crime victims awareness week to publicize their issues and programs, services and laws which can help them and their families. A memorial to domestic crime victims in the ‘Memorial Garden’ in front of KPF headquarters was dedicated last spring. Unique in Canada, it demonstrates the force’s commitment to crime victims.

Cst Lisa Damczyk, domestic violence coordinator, helped secure the money and implement many programs, including Phone Safe, which uses cell phones to enhance the safety of those at high-risk of domestic violence.

h3. Community liaisons

No police force can carry out its mandate without assistance and cooperation from other individuals and agencies. The KPF is fortunate to enjoy an excellent rapport with community partners too numerous to mention, but it is inextricably linked to the members of one community group: the Kingston Police Community Volunteers. Begun with 25 members in 1996, it now boasts 50 volunteers who carry out a wide variety of duties.

Volunteer members locate stolen vehicles and property, assist at accident scenes, search for missing persons, locate intoxicated drivers, help search for evidence at crime scenes and control access at standoffs, freeing uniformed officers to concentrate on front-line tasks. The volunteers have also conducted numerous child identification clinics, processing more than 1,500 children in 2002 alone.

h3. Blue to green

The new KPF Headquarters, opened in 2007, represents a unique step forward in police facility design, incorporating both conventional security considerations and a “green” building design. It successfully expresses the city’s commitment to environmental stewardship.

In addition to meeting the requirements of LEED Gold, the force adhered to four key guiding principles: Reduce, reuse, recycle and rethink. The two-storey, 11,000 m2 facility is a healthy workplace and is inviting and functional for visitors and victims of crime.

h3. OACP conference

The Kingston area is the perfect location for hosting events. This year the KPF will proudly host this year’s Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police conference from June 13 to 16.

“My staff and I are excited about having this important annual event back in beautiful Eastern Ontario for the first time in several years,” Tanner says. “The Limestone City has become a favoured destination not only for its historic sites but also for its many amenities.”

The theme for this year’s conference, “Policing in a civil society,” will feature keynote speaker Dr. Benet Davetian.

The men and women, sworn and civilian, who have chosen to dedicate themselves to the KPF and its core values – practicing the Golden Rule, listening to both sides of a dispute, demanding excellence and caring about people – provide an integral service to the community.

From its modest beginnings of five men, the KPF has been true to its purpose to improve the overall quality of life in the city for residents and visitors alike. That purpose remains unchanged after 169 years of service.

h3. The Kingston Police: 165 years of Policing

“. . . for the preservation of good order and the public morals therein. . . .”

With these words and to these ends, the Police Force of Kingston was created by the Common Council of Kingston on December 20, 1841.

The Union Act, 1840, which took effect on February 10, 1841, united Upper and Lower Canada into the Province of Canada and, for a period, changed the fortunes of Kingston. When Kingston was designated as the capital of the United Canadas, the population of the town grew rapidly, and construction of a grand Town Hall was begun. In that year, the Town Council also had great concern over the level of crime and the efficiency of the constable system to deal properly with soldiers, sailors, boatmen, and the growing number of transients and immigrants. In September 1841, a Report of the Grand Jury on the State of the Gaol urged the Mayor and Common Council to rectify the “unprotected condition of the Town of Kingston in regard to its police and afford the necessary security of the inhabitants.” The Council resolved to establish a permanent paid police force.

The first force consisted of a High Bailiff / Chief Constable, Samuel Shaw, and four sub-constables. Since there were no suitable quarters available for the new force, the

Midland District allowed it space in the Court House and Gaol located at the corner of King Street and Clarence Street.

The court records of the day indicate that the small force was kept busy in pursuits other than watching for fires, including such infractions as pigs at large, dumping refuse on the market, drunkenness, and disorderly conduct. It would also appear from these records that there was a noticeable rise in arrests for being drunk and disorderly after the new force came into being. In the court records, the accused were often described as being so drunk that the constable had to “hire a cart” to bring the person to the Station House.

Dealing with the drunk and disorderly must have been a sizable task for the five-man force, considering that in 1842 there were 136 licensed taverns in Kingston and its suburbs, serving a community of approximately 8,000 to 9,000 inhabitants. The sale and consumption of liquor in Kingston must have been a difficult problem for the police to address, given that it was reported in the British Whig on March 3, 1854, that the sale of liquor licences in 1853 accounted for over 10 percent of the city’s total revenue, giving Council a vested interest in the consumption of alcohol. Couple this with the fact that the new Prime Minister of the Canadas was himself a frequent supporter of such establishments it could be assumed the constables had a clear understanding of the word discrection.

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