Reforming how police officers are held accountable for misconduct and developing better ways to respond when people are in crisis continue to be top priorities for Calgarians, according to the Calgary Police Commission’s 2022 Citizen Satisfaction Survey. The survey also showed declines in the public perception of the Calgary Police Service with satisfaction and confidence in the Service reaching their lowest levels since the survey started in 2008.
The results of the survey were presented to commissioners at their September regular meeting.
“The results were not unexpected given the conversations we have been having about needed police reforms over the past few years, but it is still disappointing,” said Commission Chair Shawn Cornett. “A lot of work is underway to address the concerns of Calgarians, but the complexity of problems like systemic racism and needed police reform have made these changes slower than any of us wanted.”
Some key findings of the survey were that:
- Agreement that Calgary is a safe place to live dropped from 94 per cent to 85 per cent.
- Calgarians satisfied with the Service dropped from 93 per cent to 85 per cent.
- Calgarians confident that the Service can deliver what is needed to keep the community safe dropped from 94 per cent to 86 per cent.
- Calgarians that trust in the Service dropped from 85 per cent to 77 per cent.
- Calgarians that rate officers as professional dropped from 85 per cent to 79 per cent.
- Calgarians that rate officers as competent dropped from 85 per cent to 77 per cent.
- Agreement that officers handle incidents involving people in crisis effectively dropped from 81 per cent to 68 per cent.
- Agreement that officers respond fairly when dealing with all segments of the community dropped from 70 per cent to 61 per cent.
- Agreement that the Service takes responsibility for its actions and the actions of its officers dropped from 75 per cent to 63 per cent.
- Just over 70 per cent of respondents ranked reforming how police misconduct is addressed and developing alternate call response models for people in crisis as essential or high priorities.
- Over half of respondents did not believe that the Service is adequately staffed.
The survey results help inform the priorities of the Commission and Service, including the Commission’s submission to City Council for the 2023-2026 Service Plan & Budget.
Police reform, anti-racism and reconciliation work, new ways of responding to people in crisis, and improved diversity within the Service remain focuses in the next four-year plan. The Commission will also be asking Council for help addressing staffing shortages made worse by both Calgary’s growth and restrictions police training facilities put on the number of recruits that can be hired each year.
“It is encouraging to see that the vast majority of Calgarians are still happy with the policing they receive, but the survey also confirms what we already knew – Calgarians want some real changes,” said Cornett. “We are committed to working with the Service to make these changes happen.”
The 2022 Citizen Satisfaction Survey was conducted by Illumina Research Partners and tracks trends in local police perception back to 2008. The Commission conducts community perception research annually, alternating between the quantitative citizen satisfaction survey and more focused qualitative studies.
A random sample of 1,000 Calgarians were interviewed for the 2022 Citizen Satisfaction Survey and the results are predicted to be accurate +/- 3.1 per cent, 19 times out of 20.
About the Commission
The Calgary Police Commission is a body of 10 community members and two city councillors appointed by City Council
to provide independent citizen governance and oversight of the Calgary Police Service
on behalf of all Calgarians.
To protect the political neutrality of the police, Alberta’s Police Act
requires that the police chief report directly to the Commission and that the Commission give direction to the Service through the chief, police policies, monitoring of the police conduct complaints process, and approval of how the police budget is spent.