Brantford police and the public are in sync when it comes to top priorities for law enforcement, according to the results of a public survey conducted by the police department late last year.
Violent crime, drugs and vehicle theft were respondents’ main concerns, and Insp. Scott Easto with the Brantford Police Service said that matches the department’s current areas of focus.
“People seem to have a fairly accurate handle on what they should be concerned about and what the real issues are,” Easto said during a presentation at Thursday’s police services board meeting.
While he would have liked to see greater participation in the online survey, which garnered 116 responses from residents, Easto is pleased that 85 per cent of respondents were satisfied with their police force and ninety per cent feel safe in their neighbourhoods almost all the time.
“Most people are safe in the community, which is really nice to see,” he said.
Respondents seem to understand that the crimes associated with drug use – such as theft, break and enter and prostitution – make substance abuse a serious issue, he added.
While the number of respondents was not high enough to consider it a representative sample of the population, Easto said the main concerns identified have remained unchanged from previous surveys.
New this year were comments that the police service’s reputation “was identified as needing repair due to the negative publicity the service received over the past several years when officers were suspended and dismissed due to misconduct.”
The department also canvassed businesses from the Brantford Brant Chamber of Commerce. They want to see increased police presence in the downtown core to deter theft and other crime.
While officers on foot patrol are less common than they used to be, cruisers regularly drive around and through downtown, Easto said.
Eight-eight per cent of the 27 business owners who responded felt that Brantford was a safe city in which to operate their business.
The surveys, along with officer feedback and crime statistics, contribute to the police service’s business plan.
Crime statistics are useful, but don’t tell the whole story, Easto said. Some crimes, such as sexual assault, are underreported, and a charge such as robbery reflects everything from a gunpoint mugging to a stolen skateboard.
“It’s very difficult to get a picture of the nature of crime simply from statistics without drilling down a little deeper,” he said.