By Greg Price
And the survey says…Taber feels like a safe place to live in.
Taber Police Service have complied the results of its 2016 Adult Community Survey which had many interesting findings.
The number-one crime concern for Taber residents that has the greatest impact for the community according to the survey was drugs and controlled substances, followed by property offences of break and enters.
“Those results are consistent to surveys we have conducted in the past as well,” said Graham Abela, police chief for the Taber Police Service.
“I recall in our survey that we did several years ago that vandalism was a major concern in the community. As much as those things are important, I’m happy to see the results with that. There are many communities in Alberta and Canada where those issues are not the greatest concern. Violence is one of the greatest concerns, the inability to walk at night and feel safe, afraid they are going to be victims of robbery or assault. I’m happy we live in a community that is not the case.”
There were 83 per cent of respondents who felt that Taber was a safe place to live with less than six per cent disagreeing on the matter. Although there were 67 per cent total female respondents, females and males answered consistently regarding how safe they felt, with 87 per cent female and 82 per cent male answering in the positive.
The Taber Police Service 2016 Adult Community Survey was launched on March 23, in which the survey was created by using an online service called Surveymonkey.com where the web-based format was open to the public until May 3. There were 397 respondents that participated in the survey which accounts for approximately eight per cent of all adults in Taber that were eligible to answer the survey.
“We have an app that when I did my PhD, we determined sample size through sample size calculators that exist,” said Abela in the strength of the survey being a true representation of Taber as a whole.
“In order to have a confidence level of 95 per cent (plus or minus five per cent), in a population of 5,047 people (number of adults in Taber), you have to have 357 respondents to your survey. When I compare that to other surveys I’ve seen in the province, for example the one that was done by the Lethbridge Police Service, we had similar confidence levels, in fact, our was a little higher.”
Taber Police Service had a standards review that was done in 2015 and one of the things the Alberta Policing Standards did was examine TPS’s survey and offered areas of improvement.
“We went through our methodology and the questions we were asking people with a fine-toothed comb to see if these were appropriate questions. We borrowed some of the questions from the larger police agencies who have 20-25 employees in their strategic planning departments that are able to do survey methodology for them,” said Abela.
“We did an e-survey which has its limitations like any method does, but we felt that within our fiscal environment as well as our capacities, we needed it to not only have an economical solution, but one that had some validity, and it does.”
The police chief was very happy with the results of the survey which showed high confidence levels over (85 per cent), and high satisfaction levels (over 80 per cent).
Out of 363 respondents who provided input on perceptions about crime rates, less than 34 per cent felt that crime was increasing, with less than six per cent saying it was decreasing, and more than 37 per cent indicating that crime rates are staying the same. Historically, crime rates have been steadily declining since the late 1970s and continue to trend down.
“Public perception is not the reality” noted the report.
For community involvement, 93 per cent of respondents said the Taber Police Service and its members are involved in the community, but in contrast, only 51 per cent of respondents were aware of any community programs that the Taber Police Service has involvement or contributes towards.
“We are going to undertake in our strategic business plan for the next five years to see if we can improve upon that to inform the pubic better of where we are involved in the community,” said Abela.
Abela noted the demographics that they have found in the 2016 survey and past surveys as well have been similar.
“In most of the surveys we have been putting out there, whether it’s the face-to-face, e-surveys or other surveys that the community of Taber has done, the majority of respondents are women ages 30-45 years old,” said Abela.
The comprehensive results of the Taber Police Service 2016 Adult Community Survey can be found on the Town of Taber web site under the subhead of clicking on departments and then police.
“Our population is not fearful of violent crime. We know from our crime analysis, you have less than one per cent chance of being a victim of a violent crime in this community and when I see the survey results, you can see they correlate, because the people we are asking, ‘Do you feel safe?’, they are saying, ‘Yeah, we feel very safe in this community’, which is great to see,” said Abela.
“To me, when you say the majority of respondents are women of that age (30-45) who have a perception of safety that they feel very safe in this community compared to our crime analysis which shows you have an extremely low chance of being a victim of violence in Taber— when you analysis those three things, that is a very excellent report card for this community.”
In a report released by Statistics Canada earlier this month on crime, Taber saw a drop in its crime severity index from 88.53 in 2014 to 61.95 in 2015, a drop of 30 per cent in the change in the crime severity index.
Along with having lowest crime severity index in the last five years, so has been the violent crime severity index at 45.82 in 2015. Numbers previously ranged from 59.18 to a high of 114.14 in 2014.
Positive trends continued in the non-violent crime severity index at 67.69, also the lowest in the last five years in Taber. For weighted clearance rates for cases, Taber had 62.20 per cent, which was again highest in the last five years.
“The stats are demonstrating we are a safe community, with high clearance rates. I think this is something to celebrate,” said Abela.
As positive as the results were overall in the survey, Abela assured the Taber Police Service is not going to rest on its laurels.
“We’ve got over 85 per cent say that they are confident or very confident that Taber Police Service can deliver the services that are needed to make Taber a safe place to live. We have got 7.85 per cent that are unsure and we’ve got just under seven per cent of the population that are not confident at all,” said Abela.
“Although that seven per cent is not statistically significant in the scheme of things, we are still going to ask what are you not confident about, we ask the questions and we identify some themes. Pay attention to those and try and improve as much as we can. We do this with an open heart and an open mind asking the public for input.”
Next up for the Taber Police Service is closing a similar survey for youth age 12-18 in the community from the various school divisions.
“We have obtained permission from the principals for the youth to participate in the survey and those results will be tabulated in the next little while,” said Abela.