The Calgary Police Commission took a new approach this year in its mandate to regularly check in with members of the community, releasing a citizen consultation report instead of the more scientific survey results it has produced every year since 2008.
The 2017 Citizen Consultation Research Report, based on online consultations conducted by Illumina Research Partners, gives "a valuable snapshot of perspectives about safety and policing in our city," the commission said in a release on Friday.
The annual quantitative surveys done until last year had showed a decline in the perception among Calgarians that the city is a safe place to live, the commission says.
The Calgary Police Commission wanted to dig deeper to find out what was driving the trend, so it commissioned a qualitative consultation instead of the annual survey, it said.
"The online community consultation format allows participants to communicate in their own words how they feel about safety, crime, and the Calgary Police Service, and why they hold particular views," the final report says, while noting that the results are not statistically projectable to the population at large.
According to the report, the participants' perception that Calgary is safe has eroded because of a "perceived increase in crime, the economic downturn, changing demographics, media coverage and the growth of the city."
More than 100 Calgarians from all eight police districts took part in the moderator-led online bulletin board discussions, which included "in-depth probing of participants to understand different perspectives and why people feel or behave a certain way."
The participants came from diverse backgrounds, including visible minorities, LGBT citizens and people with varied experiences and attitudes about policing and safety in Calgary, the report said.
According to the commission, other notable takeaways from the consultation include a sense among the participants that a visible police presence contributes to feelings of safety.
Many participants said they would like to see more officers on the streets and greater police visibility.
"There is uncertainty among many participants that CPS has the resources necessary to meet increasing demand," the commission said in its release.
The report also highlighted that participants on the whole hold the force in high regard, but that there is room to improve "when it comes to being more polite, helpful, patient, respectful and approachable."
The province's policing standards manual requires formal consultation with the community at least every four years.
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