In advance of the Kingston Police Services Board’s first meeting of 2024, Chief of Police Scott Fraser published an update on the progress the force has made toward implementing its Strategic Plan.
The Kingston Police Strategic Plan for 2023 to 2026 was released in March 2023 and centres on five major objectives. Fraser’s report provides an update on the progress so far as of December 31, 2023.
Reduction of weighted crime
The first objective in the Strategic Plan is to “reduce the weighted crime rate by 10 per cent, particularly in the downtown core.”
In this vein, the Kingston Police Force (KPF) has been working on decreasing the recidivism (reoffending) rate. Fraser’s report notes that officers are continually returning wanted persons to nearby provincial and federal correctional facilities. Further, those wanted by neighbouring agencies are being arrested and transported to their respective police services. To help enhance this process, work is underway on a bail dashboard, currently projected to come online in the first quarter of 2024.
Further, to decrease organized crime activity, the Kingston Police Intelligence Unit now hosts an officer from the Canadian Border Services Agency. Fraser notes that this allows for cross-agency collaboration for a variety of crime-related activities that come into the community due to the proximity of the U.S. border.
Also, KPF has improved information sharing with the Criminal Intelligence Service of Ontario (CISO) to address organized crime activity from a province-wide perspective, Fraser notes. Several officers are assigned to dedicated Joint Forces Operations with the Ontario Provincial Police, specifically targeting organized crime (Provincial Weapons Enforcement, Guns and Gangs, Internet Child Exploitation, and Human Trafficking). He also writes, “We are exploring the availability of adding a third member to the Repeat Offender Parole Enforcement (ROPE) team.”
To decrease the crime rate in downtown Kingston, Fraser reports that a sergeant from the Alternative Response Unit has been assigned to patrol the downtown core and surrounding areas, in addition to two officers from the Community Oriented Response and Engagement (CORE) Unit.
Specific to road safety, Fraser reports that the Traffic Unit has been conducting blitzes in the downtown area to reduce traffic violations in high pedestrian areas.
KPF is also taking an “evidence-based policing” approach as a way of reducing weighted crime. Fraser reports that the Administrative Support Inspector continues to attend meetings of the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police Emergency Preparedness Committee to share intelligence regarding mass gatherings that may occur as a result of world events: “a valuable information sharing resource for Kingston Police.”
Kingstonians should feel safer and more satisfied
The second major objective of the Strategic Plan is for the people of Kingston, including marginalized and disadvantaged persons, to feel safer and more satisfied with the Kingston Police.
Fraser reports that a grant application was recently submitted seeking funding for a mobile trailer that will be used to provide traffic and pedestrian safety education to the community at various locations and events throughout the year. And KPF strives to initiate new community engagement programs, with particular emphasis on relationship building with equity-deserving persons, according to the report.
Fraser also notes, “With the success of the Queen’s Homecoming enforcement strategy in 2023, Kingston Police has committed to having more officers trained and qualified as Public Liaison Team members.” He notes that these officers are available to assist in community education beyond mass gatherings.
Fraser describes “a robust multi-language interpretation application” which has been installed on all KP-issued smartphones. This application allows for a variety of language interpretation services (text, voice, video) to assist in interactions with community members.
As well, planning is already underway for the Kingston Police Community Fun Fair, to be hosted in the summer of 2024. “More details will follow as the event approaches, and we look forward to once again welcoming the community to our facility for a day of fun activities for all ages,” Fraser says.
Better training aims to decrease complaints regarding officer conduct, Fraser notes, and the Training Unit has applied for Active Bystandership for Law Enforcement (ABLE) accreditation. The number of required training hours for officers has also increased, “to ensure topics are covered more thoroughly.”
KP is actively trying to ensure that police recruitment is “proportional, to better represent our community,” according to Fraser, by routinely attending recruiting events that will reach a broad range of community members.
To enhance cultural competency, anti-racism, and diversity training for all staff, Fraser reports that a third party consultant has been retained to work on the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion role in the Human Resources Unit.
Improvement to member job satisfaction and engagement
A third priority in the Strategic Plan is to improve member job satisfaction and engagement; a sizable number of members (employees) surveyed pointed to this need. To this end, Fraser notes, “Members, both sworn and civilian, are encouraged to provide feedback through the Kingston City Police Association, as well as bringing forward any new ideas they may have to better improve the organization.”
The chief indicates that improvements are being made to better track employee information like promotion, transfer, and training history, and planning has begun to bring back the Kingston Police Awards Ceremony in 2024.
To improve the morale and retention of members, KPF administration and the Kingston City Police Association are working together to enhance the promotional process, Fraser reports.
As well, smartphones have been issued to all sworn officers and to several civilian members. Fraser states this will allow members to easily access electronic ticketing, electronic note-taking, and many other technology-assisted services, on a safe and secure device.
Efforts are also underway to reinvigorate the existing peer support program for members, as well, according to the report.
To decrease absenteeism and improve employee wellness, Safeguard — a program where members meet with a psychologist regularly to determine if they are adequately coping with the demands and stresses their particular assignments impose — is being expanded to include more units in 2024. Fraser also points out that, pending budget approval, the occupational therapist will be expanding their on-site hours.
Fraser notes that Kingston is a more desirable location for new employee applicants, and a new recruiting website has been developed to highlight not only the benefits of working with Kingston Police, but also the advantages of living in the Kingston community.
Improve weighted clearance rate to 45 per cent
Fourth on the list of Strategic Plan priorities, the “weighted clearance rate” refers to “more serious crimes” being “assigned a higher ‘weight’ than less serious crimes,” according to Statistics Canada, and the weighted clearance rate is based on the same principles as the Police Reported Crime Severity Index (CSI), according to the Government of Canada.
To improve high-risk crime clearance rates in Kingston, the Court Services Unit is working on better communication with court and Crown attorney staff, Fraser says.
Community businesses and organizations are encouraged to undergo a Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) Audit, the chief reports, to identify areas where they can make improvements to deter property crime.
He also notes the completion of the Strategic Direction report focusing on the Communications Unit. Additional Communications Operators were included as part of the Kingston Police proposed budget and “will provide our current members with relief from burnout and help manage the increased call volumes being experienced,” says Fraser.
Transfers of non-criminal, low-risk cases are faster and more frequent
The fifth and final objective of the Strategic Plan would be to make transfers of non-criminal, low-risk cases becoming faster and more frequent.
To decrease police interaction time in mental health apprehension, Fraser notes, there is continued communication with Kingston General Hospital. This includes a refresh of the Health IM application, which assists officers in appropriately assessing whether a person is at risk of harm to themselves or others.
The Community Risk Watch Leadership table is being refreshed in 2024, Fraser reports. As well, several school resource officers have been assigned to assist in addressing at-risk youth in our community.
Fraser notes that “2023 Calls for Service saw a 14.10% increase over 2022 (71,770 in 2023 as opposed to 62,897 in 2022). Unfortunately, while we cannot control for the number of calls we receive, we continue to explore avenues as to who the calls are assigned to, and how they are dealt with.” (Find more information on KPF’s 2023 Calls for Service report in our coverage here.)
The Kingston Police Services Board will receive the report at its meeting on Thursday, Jan. 18, 2024, at 12 noon in the William Hackett Boardroom at Kingston Police Headquarters, 705 Division Street. Kingstonist will provide more coverage at that time.