Public satisfaction with the Saskatoon Police Service (SPS) has fallen to its lowest level since Insightrix began conducting third-party investigations for the force.

The company’s community satisfaction survey found that 87 percent of respondents reported being satisfied with the service provided by the SPS, according to a report sent to the Saskatoon Board of Police Commissioners on Thursday.

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“In general, Saskatoon residents remain satisfied with the SPS,” the report says. “However, a reduction in satisfaction in some areas has caused overall satisfaction to decline slightly compared to previous years.”

Insightrix began its survey in 2008, when audience satisfaction stood at 90 percent. It peaked at 93 percent in 2017 before falling in 2021.

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“The reasons given for the perceived reduction in service satisfaction have to do with service issues such as slow response, the need for more police and insufficient investigations,” said the report, which was written by Research Coordinator Mitchell Nemeth and Deputy Chief Mitch Yuzdepski.

Respondents also expressed concern about perceived ineffectiveness of the police, the need for officers to be more visible, and “a discriminatory / racist attitude from staff.”

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People of indigenous descent tend to have a less favorable opinion of the service, according to the report, which is in line with previous versions of the survey.

Of this year’s respondents, 86 percent felt safe in their neighborhood, and people in the SPS central division felt less safe (54 percent), compared to the eastern division (93 percent) and the Northwest division (85 percent).

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Thirty-seven of those surveyed said they believe crime in their neighborhood has increased in the past five years, the highest proportion of respondents with this belief since the Insightrix survey began.

“Residents are increasingly concerned about homelessness, mental health, addictions, organized crime and fraud,” the report states.

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Just over half of those surveyed reported visiting the city center on a monthly basis or less frequently. “Social disorder” was cited as the most important problem in the area for 71 percent of the people. Respondents cited homelessness and begging as the most pressing social problems.

Nearly all of those surveyed, 98 percent, said they generally support officers who use body cameras. 88% said that the use of cameras will increase public confidence in the SPS.

In early January 2022, 40 cameras will be installed among patrol, traffic and alternative response officers in Saskatoon as part of a pilot project.

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Respondents also expressed support for the “redefinition” of the role of the police. Ninety-four percent of people said it was valuable for a mental health professional to partner with the police to respond to non-threatening, non-criminal calls.

Another 92 percent would support an alternate response officer who responds to a call for service if an incident is not criminal or threatening.

The Insightrix survey was conducted by phone with 526 people between October 7 and November 9. All of the respondents lived in Saskatoon and were at least 18 years old.

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Results were weighted based on age, gender, indigenous ancestry, and minority status to align with the 2016 census.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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