July 21st, 2024

Public gives LPS strong support

By Lethbridge Herald on October 23, 2023.

Alejandra Pulido-GUZMAN
Lethbridge Herald

The results are in from a  community survey of Lethbridge residents over the summer regarding the Lethbridge Police Service – and the feedback is very positive. 

The Lethbridge Police Service 2023 Community Survey was conducted by IPSOS which balanced the respondent pool to ensure an even mix of gender, age, income level, education, areas of the city, household size and years living in Lethbridge.

Random telephone interviews were conducted on cellphones and landlines between Aug. 28 and Sept. 8.

The survey shows a strong majority of respondents, over 80 per cent, are satisfied with the services provided by the department and believe officers are doing a good job policing the city.

LPS Chief Shahin Mehdizadeh told media Friday they appreciate the support of the community. 

“We really appreciate the support of the community and we’re very glad that a majority of our citizens feel that we’re doing an adequate job in providing a service. 

“But the main point is we want to continue to grow on those numbers and make sure more citizens are happy with our services, and we continue our efforts on that front,” said Mehdizadeh. 

A total of 83 per cent of respondents indicated they were satisfied with the services provided by LPS, with 86 per cent ranking the service’s performance as adequate to good. 

While the majority of feedback was positive, 14 per cent of respondents rated the overall performance of LPS as poor, citing a high crime rate and inadequate call response among the main reasons.

“A lot of the dissatisfaction by the citizens has to do with what’s going on in the city, and we are not the only community. When you look at the opioid crisis, drug issues, homelessness, and some of this stuff that actually make the community feel less safe in their own city contribute to those,” said Mehdizadeh. 

Mehdizadeh said in terms of dissatisfaction with response times, the LPS is trying to recruit officers and get their resources up to par. 

“We have many years on that front, but slowly we’re going to get there. We ask the citizens to be patient,” said Mehdizadeh. 

He explained higher priority calls get attention immediately and some of those lower priority calls cause the dissatisfaction because citizens have to wait at times. 

The survey results also show that when asked about perceptions of safety, 65 per cent of respondents indicated Lethbridge is a safe community overall, compared to 35 per cent who feel it is unsafe. 

The latter percentage has increased in the last several years due to drugs, homelessness and crime present in the city. 

Mehdizadeh said one of the main pillars of LPS’ strategic direction is public safety and reducing in crime in our community, and they have done a very good job the past three years on that front, which is something police are very proud of. 

“However, the perception of safety when you look at homelessness, opioid issues, et cetera, it is something that we’re working with many other partners to see how we can help these individuals, and when they commit crime how we can deal with them,” said Mehdizadeh. 

As an example, Mehdizadeh said in the last couple of years LPS officers have been fully engaged in dealing with drug trafficking issues and have seized historic levels of drugs off city streets. 

“We are continuously going after the prolific offenders in the community, through our new comp stat model that every unit and other partners are engaged on that front. 

“We’re doing whatever we can, and we also rely on the justice system to hold people accountable, but we have no role or control on that front,” said Mehdizadeh. 

He said the LPS commitment to the community is to keep working on those issues and keep trying to take more drugs off the street, as well as criminals. 

“The bottom line is that the city is much safer than three years ago. I think as a community we need to celebrate that. That’s not to say that things are perfect, we still have a long road ahead of us and we continued working on that front, but we just ask the citizen just be patient and work with us,” said Mehdizadeh. 

Property crime, drug crime and crimes against persons were identified as the top three policing priorities and a majority of respondents indicated they’d like to see police focus more on crime prevention strategies and increase community visibility. About one-quarter indicated they’d also like to see more traffic enforcement.

Another area of the survey shows 89 per cent of respondents ranked the level of professionalism by LPS officers as adequate to good which is up five per cent from 2022. 

“The survey itself has provided an opportunity for our citizens to tell us what they want us to focus on in the next year. Those are important things for us to consider so when we are planning our next year’s annual plan, obviously we’re going to take what we get from the citizens on the survey,” said Mehdizadeh. 

The results will assist the police service as it prepares its 2024 annual policing plan and reviews strategic priorities.

The 2023 Community Survey is available at www.lethbridgepolice.ca/

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