Ottawa

Concerns about police budget surveys 'legitimate,' board chair says

The chair of the Ottawa Police Services Board says concerns about the legitimacy of budget consultations are valid but that there are lessons to learn from public data released last week.

Deans says themes from surveys will aid the work of budget drafting

Diane Deans, chair of the Police Services Board, says the people polled in the survey were not necessarily representative of the population.

The chair of the Ottawa Police Services Board says concerns about the legitimacy of budget consultations are valid but that there are lessons to learn from public data released last week.

On Thursday, police released the results of a series of budget consultations ahead of its draft 2022 budget — among them public opinion research they paid for through telephone polling, online surveys that were accessible through police and board websites and their own internal survey of serving police officers.

One survey revealed that more than 70 per cent of public respondents want some tasks moved away from police, while only a slim majority wanted funding to cops to increase.

The surveys prompted pushback from community organizations who questioned the legitimacy and methodology of the Ottawa police- and board-funded online survey. Racialized people were underrepresented in the survey.

"I would say that some of those concerns are legitimate. This is one input of many that we hope to have through the budget process," Deans said. "These were 4,000 people with an opinion and they're not necessarily representative of the population and certainly not representative of the people perhaps most impacted by police."

That said, Deans believes there are important themes that will aid the work of budget drafting.

"There is a theme that people recognize that we need a new approach, that there are some areas that police are in and that perhaps could be better served by others. Police are a default to many areas where perhaps there could be a different social response and the chief and I are both aware of that."

Chief Peter Sloly added that one survey "does not represent the totality of all the efforts that the board and the service have made to work with community, to work in community, to listen to community, to engage with community.

That goes on literally every single day of every single year."

The budget consultation efforts are set to continue through November.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Shaamini Yogaretnam

CBC Ottawa reporter

Shaamini Yogaretnam is CBC Ottawa's justice, crime and police reporter. She has spent nearly a decade covering crime in the nation's capital. You can reach her at shaamini.yogaretnam@cbc.ca or 613-220-2486. You can find her on Twitter at @shaaminiwhy

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