District neighbourhoods safe, helpful: OPP survey

Numbers are in from the OPP’s “Policing for Results” phone survey, which was conducted last fall, and they show many of those surveyed feel Rainy River District is safe and they are satisfied with the police service here.
“[The survey] is a very fair reflection of what people think of the work and services being done in Fort Frances and the district,” S/Sgt. Hugh Dennis, who only recently received the full results from OPP headquarters in Orillia, said Monday.
“People are definitely paying attention to policing. And any changes that we might make, we’ll now work toward them,” he added.
Of the 375 people surveyed, 96.2 percent agreed they live in a community where neighbours are willing to help each other, while 93.8 agreed they could trust their neighbours.
On a scale of one to four, respondents rated their feelings of safety in the community as “safe” and “very safe” (3.3/4); violent crime as a “slight problem” or “not a problem” (3.31/4); alcohol and substance/drug abuse as almost a “slight problem” (2.84/4), and properly crime (3.06/4) and nuisance activity (3.2/4) as “slight problems.”
More than 41 percent believed domestic violence is a problem, and 58.9 percent believe violence in schools is a problem.
Respondents generally were “satisfied” with the OPP’s ability to work with the community to solve local problems (3.15/4), and 57.2 percent knew the name of an OPP officer working in their neighbourhood.
In general, however, respondents were “less than satisfied” with the ease in contacting the OPP (2.84/4), while only 65.2 percent were aware the OPP could be contacted anytime for assistance at 1-888-310-1122.
“Ease of contact was an issue that came up during the last ‘Policing for Results’ survey in 1999,” said S/Sgt. Dennis. “It’s an area we’ll be targetting.”
He added the OPP Communication Unit will get a chance to promote the phone number at Vital Services Day coming up in Emo on May 10.
Meanwhile, on average, respondents were “satisfied” with the visibility of the OPP both in the community (3.12/4) and on the highways (3.15/4), while 56.9 percent would like to see more marine patrols on Rainy Lake and 56.1 percent would like to more patrols on the Rainy River.
Awareness of local programs varied, as:
•94.4 percent knew of Crime Stoppers;
•92.3 percent knew of the seatbelt campaign;
•92 percent knew of R.I.D.E.;
•81.6 percent knew of D.A.R.E.;
•67.7 knew of the School Violence Prevention Team (SVPT);
•44.9 percent knew of the aggressive driving campaign;
•41.9 percent knew of the Community Policing Committee (CPC); and
•29.9 percent knew of the OPP Auxiliary.
The uneven level of awareness of these is something the OPP will strive to change, said S/Sgt. Dennis, adding he will bring the matter before related groups such as the CPC and get their input as to how to raise its profile.
He noted changing this may only be a matter of clarifying who does what. For instance, the SVPT actually is a sub-committee of the CPC, yet is more well-known.
Respondents generally were “satisfied” with the OPP’s enforcement of drunk driving laws (3.01/4) and dealing with traffic accidents (3.15/4).
They also were “satisfied” with the police’s investigation of property crimes (3.2/4) and charging people who committed property crimes (3.01/4).
This held true for respondents’ satisfaction with the OPP charging people who had committed a violent crime (3.08/4), sensitivity to victims of violent crime (3.16/4), response time to violent crimes (3.02/4), and investigation of violent crime (3.06/4).
All of these results were quite similar to those of the survey conducted by the Kenora OPP, where 95.3 percent of the 371 respondents felt they lived in a safe neighbourhood and generally ranked police visibility and service with an average mean rating of 3/4.
The “Policing for Results” survey here was conducted between Oct. 23 and Nov. 20. Those surveyed were asked to respond to 68 questions designed to gauge opinions about local policing issues as well as the services and program delivered by the OPP.
The respondents’ telephone numbers were selected randomly from a data base of local telephone numbers.
The 15 volunteers called the numbers selected and asked respondents three types of questions in a scripted interview: the respondents’ perceptions of the community, awareness of the OPP as part of the community, and their perception of how well the OPP enforces the law here.
Of the 375 persons surveyed, 177 were from Fort Frances, 132 from other municipalities in the district, and 17 from First Nations Territories within the district.
The average age of respondents was 53.5 years, and 236 of them were females, 139 males.
The members of district detachments were pleased with the feedback from the survey and would like to thank the community volunteers for their excellent work, said S/Sgt. Dennis.
The results of the survey will be taken into account during consultation with the Police Services Board, municipal leaders, the Community Policing Committee, community groups, and other OPP partners when planning the future efforts of the OPP to provide policing excellence to the citizens of Rainy River District, he added.