Kingston police budget makes room for 10 new officers, cuts mounted unit

A revised Kingston police budget for next year has been revealed, and although the force will be gaining several two-legged officers, two four-legged officers will not be returning next year due to budget constraints.

Kingston police originally asked for a budget increase of over 4.5 per cent to pay for the hiring of 10 new officers in January 2020, but on Monday, the Kingston Police Services Board landed on a one-time increase of 3.78 per cent that will bring eight new officers to the force in January 2020 and two in September of that year.

“We’ve come back and had some tough discussions within our organization, within our leadership and we prepared what we thought was the best we could do,” Kingston police chief Antje McNeely said at the board meeting on Monday.

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This compromise included several cuts to next year’s budget, including Murney, Kingston police’s mounted unit.

The 10-year-old Percheron thoroughbred was cut from the budget in an effort to bring new officers onto the force next year.

Murney came from Wolfe Island and has been with the police service for four years.

Const. Sarah Groenewegen has been Murney’s partner for three years, and although the horse will not be returning in 2020, Groenewegen will be continuing on foot patrol with Kingston police.

McNeely says it’s possible the force might bring a mounted unit back in the future, but it’s unclear how they would make that happen.

“That’s not to say we can’t down the road look at some opportunities in terms of corporate funding or how that may look like,” McNeely said.

“I don’t know what that looks like in the future, but for now that’s were we are.”

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Among other cost-saving measures, Kingston police will also be deferring the acquisition of a second police dog for at least a year.

The city’s canine unit currently consists of two dogs, Zeus and Titan, and their officers, Jeff Dickson and Mark McCreary. However, Titan will also be hanging up his hat when McCreary retires. In order to make the new hires, the board will hold off on acquiring a new dog in 2020.

The board also decided to delay an internal promotion for one officer who was meant to replace an inspector. The board will not be promoting any officers to senior positions if senior officers retire during the 2020 budget term.

Mayor Bryan Paterson commended the chief on coming back to the table with compromises that allowed for the hiring of several new officers, saying he felt he could now defend the revised budget at council.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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