Categorized | Society

Peel police chief faces grilling over glowing survey results

Posted on 24 November 2016 by admin

After a year of controversy over carding practices that disproportionately targeted black individuals, disturbing reports of officer misconduct and a new survey that reveals low staff morale, Peel Police Chief Jennifer Evans was questioned about her claims that things have never been better.

With her contract up for renewal next year, after months of battle with a new police board calling for sweeping changes, Evans commissioned a community survey of 1,200 Brampton and Mississauga residents this past summer. It shows that 93 per cent “are satisfied with the work of Peel Regional Police.” As Evans repeatedly used the statistic presented in a report at Friday’s police services board meeting, members, residents and rights groups openly questioned her data.

“I’m also skeptical,” said Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie, following questions by two rights group representatives who scrutinized the data. Crombie said that in the last municipal election “my opponent had me losing by nine per cent (according to his own survey of residents). I ended up winning with 63 per cent (of the vote),” she told the meeting.

Knia Singh, representing the Osgoode Society Against Institutional Injustice and the African-Canadian Coalition of Community Organizations, told Evans, “the numbers would probably be very different . . . if you get a reflection from another segment of the community.” He later told the Star that Evans “really needs to hear from the community, directly, so she can understand how they really feel.”

Board members also questioned if the survey’s respondents reflected Peel’s diversity. They asked what questions were asked and wanted other details of the survey’s methodology.

Kerry Dangerfield, of Winnipeg-based firm, Prairie Research Associates, which conducted the survey, told the Star that survey questions were provided by Peel police — they were not included in the public document. Board chair Amrik Ahluwalia asked Dangerfield if the survey respondents accurately reflected the 62 per cent of residents who are visible minorities. The report’s methodology section states that the survey had “quotas by age and gender,” but there is no mention of race or ethnicity being included in the survey methodology.

Dangerfield told the board that those who don’t speak English as a “main” language were not surveyed. He acknowledged that visible minorities were under-represented, but said the results were “weighted” to account for the discrepancy. He did not explain how this was done or how this might have changed the results.

When asked by the Star why no questions about street checks were asked in the survey, considering the controversial practice has dominated many public discussions in Peel for more than a year, Dangerfield said, “Sorry, I can’t comment.”

Evans responded to the scrutiny by telling the board, “There seems to be some skepticism in the results.” Ahluwalia called the low number of visible minority respondents “skewed.”

 “Our chief is so dug into her position, which is almost the opposite of what the community, rights groups and the board has been telling her all year,” said Ranjit Khatkur, chair of the Peel Coalition Against Racialized Discrimination, after the meeting.

Earlier in the year Khatkur provided the board with published reports that Peel police had rates of officer misconduct three times higher than the rate of the Ontario Provincial Police over the last five years.

Regarding Evans’ community survey, Khatkur said, “does anyone believe that kind of support after calls at public meetings for her to resign, data that shows street checks targeted certain groups and (reports that) one-third of the force’s uniform officers have recently been disciplined for misconduct. And she tells us things have never been better.”

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