Public confidence in the Ottawa Police Service has declined, but a small majority of people still want to see the police budget increased, according to the results of two surveys paid for by police.
The results of the surveys – one an opinion poll measuring attitudes across the country to local police forces and the other a budget-specific survey designed to consult with Ottawa residents on next year’s police budget – were announced Thursday ahead of Monday’s Ottawa Police Services Board meeting.
The police have not yet submitted a budget proposal for 2022, but have been instructed by the board to prepare one with a zero percent increase or have justification for any proposed increases.
The budget direction comes after months of passionate requests from marginalized groups and their allies to defeat the police or at least rethink what the police should and should not do.
1,338 Ottawans surveyed on police services
“The general perception of OPS has dropped over the past year,” according to opinion polls that took a sample of Canadians over 18 years of age. The polling company Advanis collected the data and then offered it to the police, who bought it.
The study surveyed 1,338 residents of Ottawa from May to July this year and 624 from February to April 2020 as a comparator.
Last year, five percent of people thought OPS was doing a very bad job, and another five percent thought they were doing a bad job, these numbers jumped to nine and 10 percent, respectively, in 2021.
Ottawa’s respondents believe that negative assessment also applies to other police services.
Nearly half of respondents – 43 percent – either disagreed or strongly disagreed with the statement that the force “provides the same quality of service to all citizens.”
Increase budget, say 51 percent of PPP surveyors
The budget-specific consultation was an online survey that was only available through websites of either the police service or the police department.
A total of 4443 respondents responded to that survey, but only 3,200 of them answered it.
51 percent of respondents said they were in favor of increasing the budget, 26 percent said they would reduce it, 16 percent wanted to freeze it at the 2021 level and eight percent said they were unsure or had no opinion .
More than half of respondents – 53 percent – also wanted to increase the number of police officers in the city.
Marginalized groups, younger respondents, and people with higher education status were more likely to support reducing the police budget and number of officers.
A large majority of respondents – 73 percent – said they want to see some responsibilities shifted away from the police to other community services, where support is highest among marginalized groups.
Respondents said their highest priorities for the service and the police board created an “alternative model for responding to mental health”, implementing local police, dealing with violence against women, setting up and maintaining a youth strategy and monitoring road safety.
This survey also showed that satisfaction with the overall quality of policing has declined.
Removes ‘bad apples’
Confidence and satisfaction ratings were lower among Native and South Asian respondents, but it was the only place that showed significant differences.
“The majority of respondents in the survey in each race / ethnicity category preferred an increase in the number of officers, an increase in the PPP budget, and shifting some responsibility for answering social questions from PPPs to community services.”
The budget survey also asked people how confidence in the Ottawa police could be strengthened. More than 2,000 people responded.
The main themes that emerged were to increase police presence or visibility, focus on local police and neighborhood teams, and ensure that the number of officers is appropriate as the city grows.
“OPS must address the perceived lack of transparency, integrity and provide reasonable and respectful service that demonstrates prudence and prudent use of force,” according to the results.
Investigators also said it was important for the force to increase the consequences of misdemeanor and weed out “bad apples” by “firing or suspending unpaid OPS members who commit crime / misdemeanor.”
In a statement issued on Thursday, Police Chief Peter Sloly said: “We have heard the calls for change, which include the need to work more effectively with our community partners on integrated and / or alternative answers to social issues, especially when it comes to mental health. health and addiction calls. “
He said the force’s budget proposal for 2022 “will address these important societal and membership issues, ensure ongoing investment in justice, diversity and inclusion, while taking into account the security and well-being of society in a growing city.”
The police board is ready to receive the results of the hearings on Monday.
The service is scheduled to present its draft budget on 3 November.