Study sheds light on how police communication impacts trust
Calgarians want to hear more from the Calgary Police Service (CPS) on how they can prevent crime and how they can work together with the police to keep the community safe, according to research conducted on behalf of the Calgary Police Commission.
Focus groups were held with both Calgarians that trust CPS and those who do not to learn how communication from the police impacts public trust, and how CPS can better meet the communication needs of Calgarians.
Participants also wanted to see more neighbourhood-level communication about crime trends and safety concerns. Transparent and consistent communication around police misconduct and how the Service is collaborating with community partners to better help people in crisis were also reiterated as priorities.
“Public trust in the Calgary Police Service, while still quite high, has been declining recently,” said Commission Chair Shawn Cornett. “We have been working for several years on the police reforms that Calgarians told us will improve trust. Both our Commission and CPS wanted to build on this work by also looking at ways police communications can help rebuild trust.”
“CPS does a lot of good work to keep people informed about incidents and investigations, and to engage with the community. Having more insight into the information needs of Calgarians will help them connect even better with the public,” added Cornett.
When asked what communication approaches they preferred, participants’ answers were not surprising. They wanted authentic, timely, highly-visual information expressed in plain language. Areas where participants wanted to see more information from the police included at transit stations and stops, recreation centres, libraries, community centres and other gathering places.
“All Calgary Police Service members recognize the importance of building trust in our relationships with all Calgarians. We believe every interaction is an opportunity to either build trust or to tear it down, and we are committed to ensuring that we are working with the community to continuously improve,” said Calgary Police Service Chief Constable Mark Neufeld.
“We are committed to building and maintaining relationships of trust with Calgarians and will use these results to inform this important and ongoing work.”
The focus groups were held as part of the Commission’s 2023 Community Perception Research conducted by Illumina Research Partners. The Commission conducts the research annually, alternating each year between a quantitative community satisfaction survey and qualitative studies into timely topics.
Results of this year’s study will be formally presented to the Commission at its regular meeting on Wednesday, June 28, 2023.
The report on the results can be accessed on the Commission’s website.
The Calgary Police Commission is a body of 13 community members and two city councillors appointed by City Council and the Government of Alberta to provide independent governance and oversight of Calgary’s police.
To protect the political neutrality of law enforcement, Calgary’s police chief reports to us instead of elected leaders. We provide direction to the Calgary Police Service through the police chief, police policies, monitoring of the police conduct complaint process, and approval of how the police budget is spent.