71 per cent of Yukoners say RCMP has integrity
Survey also shows fewer people believe RCMP sensitive to women
An annual survey of Yukoners’ opinions of the RCMP has produced mixed results for the territory's police force.
Most people said M Division officers they deal with are professional, courteous and respectful, but there are concerns, particularly with police attitudes about women.
Regard for the force dropped sharply in the 2010 survey, after revelations about how Raymond Silverfox was treated before he died in the RCMP cells. It began rising again last year, but this year's survey indicates there are still lingering doubts.
Seventy-one per cent of Yukoners said the RCMP is an organization with integrity. M Division said it's working on improving those numbers.
"We internally recognize there's always room for improvement, and again that comes down to communication," said RCMP Cpl. Rick Aird.
"We're always working on improvement on that, and professionalism. As we get out there and we do our job in a professional manner we get more community support."
There are much more positive numbers from Yukoners who have dealt with RCMP officers in the past year. Ninety-two per cent said officers were courteous and respectful and 93 per cent said they were professional.
There's been a huge jump in ratings provided by community leaders, such as mayors and First Nation chiefs. This year 79 per cent said the RCMP provided high quality service, compared to 22 per cent last year.
Aird said it's the result of community policing initiatives, and that one of the popular changes is giving communities a say in choosing detachment commanders. He cited Sgt. Cam Lockwood in Watson Lake as an example.
"When they brought in the detachment commander for the last appointment, the communities involved in that decision sat at the table and interviewed prospective detachment commanders so when that person eventually took that spot, the community was involved in finding a person they felt would suit their needs."
He also singled out the RCMP's new relationship with women's groups.
"One of the areas we worked in a lot in the last couple of years with the women's groups is Yukon Sisters in Spirit, and we have a tremendous relationship with them that's ongoing."
Aird said that's why he's surprised by the response in the survey to the statement: "The RCMP is sensitive to needs of women."
The number of people who agreed dropped to 57 per cent this year from 81 per cent three years ago. Aird said he doesn't know why but acknowledges there have been many national stories alleging poor treatment of women within the force.
The survey, done annually across Canada, helps show the RCMP the areas where it needs improvement.