Community Dinner Roundtable Feedback
The roundtable discussion portion of the Calgary Police Commission community event, held on June 20, 2019, invited guests to provide their thoughts about trust in the Calgary Police Service.
The 400+ guests in attendance represented community associations, diversity groups, community agencies, elected officials, the Calgary Police Service, and community policing award recipients. Youth cadets also brought their unique experience and perspectives to the roundtable discussion.
Most guests expressed high levels of trust with the Calgary Police Service for reasons including: good response times, helpful and engaged community resource and diversity unit officers, being accessible and responsive to concerns, being solution-oriented and focusing on prevention, education, and community partnerships. Many noted that CPS is doing the best it can with limited time and money available. Tools like social media and body worn camera, and events like CopShop and Coffee with a Cop were highlighted as successful ways CPS is building trust. Others noted that although CPS has improved significantly in recent years in its approach and interactions, trust takes time to build and ongoing work is still required, especially with Indigenous, LGBTQ2S+, sex workers, newcomers, ethnic groups, and other marginalized groups. Guests voiced an appreciation for CPS efforts to prevent and reduce crime, along with an appreciation that citizens must also play a role.
They described the ways they do their part to help CPS and to build trust with police, including:
- Inviting CPS members to participate in or speak at community-organized events
- Maintaining direct communication with community resource and diversity officers
- Helping CPS with training (ex. Elders helping with Indigenous training)
- Supporting community block watch programs
- Reporting crime
- Participating in Coffee with a Cop
- Participating in the cadet program
- Volunteering for CPS
- Following CPS social media and distributing information to personal networks
Using their role in the community to encourage people to talk to police and report crimes
Inspired by the conversation during the event, a number of guests made a commitment to invite CPS to their community events and to seek feedback from their community to deliver to CPS.
Guests discussed three questions:
- Do you trust CPS to address the things that matter to you and your community?
- In what ways are you and your community building a trusting relationship with CPS?
- What is the one thing CPS can do to be more responsive to you and your community?
Discussion participants offered many suggestions for ways CPS could be more responsive to communities and to strengthen trust. Two topics emerged as priorities. The first was the need to remain committed to a community policing model that focuses on prevention, especially youth programs. Face-to-face, positive interactions such as attending community events (youth sports, round dance, community association meetings) and being involved/visible in positive ways (not just when called) are key to building trust. The community values school resource officers and many feel that more SROs are needed.
The other priority was the need to improve cultural training for officers, and diversity within the Calgary Police Service. Guests emphasized the need to have officers who understand and respect differences within the community they serve. They suggest that CPS should recruit qualified officers who speak the languages that Calgarians speak and reflect the composition of the City. Better representation will prepare CPS to more effectively understand, communicate, and serve increasingly diverse citizens. Creating a sense of trust requires a commitment to greater diversity, and more education on diverse communities.