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Kingston police too focused on busting students for shotgunning beer in the street

Kingston Police have started cracking down on street parties at Queen’s through a new ticketing pilot project. The “University District Safety Initiative”. Under this new system, students who receive tickets for offences like drinking in public or blocking the street will now have to appear in court, instead of just paying the ticket online. If students are convicted, they could also face disciplinary actions by the university, including loss of campus privileges.

Don’t Kingston Police have anything better to do than ticket someone for drinking a beer in the street? This seems like a massive waste of court resources, when typically these tickets could be paid out online or over the phone. Not to mention the oddity of including school punishments on top of any legal punishments one may face.

Of course there are cases where the police should get involved, for example if someone is a threat to themselves or others, but this new initiative doesn’t differentiate between someone just enjoying a brewski on the street or, say, flipping a car over.

Queen’s is notorious for its party culture, and the reality is that block parties are a big part of the university experience. It’s understandable that Kingston wants to see their students do it in a safe way, but this initiative isn’t the way to go about that. This is wasting the court’s time and resources for something that is typically an arbitrary and easy process. It’s wasting the student’s time, who now has to appear in court for something that would take them far less time to do online. It’s a waste of the university’s time for now having to get involved.

But wait, you might be thinking (along with the Kingston municipal government), this serves as a good deterrent to loudness and partying in general. But those of us familiar with university parties know that it just means students will go elsewhere to party. Through this initiative, they’ve outlined specific boundaries for the “University District”, but there are plenty of accessible streets outside of the district, with plenty of students living outside of it.

Here in Ottawa, this initiative would never work. Like Kingston, Ottawa also has by-laws on street parties, and Ottawa police often get involved to break them up (St. Paddy’s day anyone?). But with two universities and one college, the amount of legal resources and court time wasted by the City would be astronomical.

Municipal officials claim that this new initiative is to prevent people from getting hurt, and that the summons adds an aspect of accountability. But in my opinion, it’s just destined to be a money pit. Just think of all the tax dollars soon to be wasted on charging some second-year for drinking a Smirnoff Ice in public.

Rather than play party police, Kingston’s law enforcement should focus on ticketing people who are actually a danger to others and themselves, rather than apply maximum force to a small offence.