63 per cent of respondents support the creation of a regional police force

Byline: Neal Hall, with a file from Frances Bula
Vancouver Sun
A majority of Metro Vancouver residents say police are not capable of dealing with organized crime and support the creation of a single police force for the region, according to an Angus Reid Strategies poll released Friday.
The survey found that 61 per cent of respondents believe the various police forces in the region cannot adequately deal with the organized crime problem and 63 per cent support creating a regional police force.
The poll showed a seven-point drop in confidence — to 36 per cent this month from 43 per cent during a poll conducted last November — in the capability of various police forces to deal with organized crime.

The latest poll also shows an eight-point increase (61 per cent this month, compared to 53 per cent last November) in those who believe police are not adequately addressing the organized crime problem.
“This was really surprising,” Mario Canseco, director of global studies for Angus Reid Strategies, said Friday of the organized crime poll results.
“This was a very hard fall in confidence.”
Pollsters asked the same question on organized crime during a poll last November after a recent spate of gang murders, he said, but when the poll was conducted this week, the preceding period was relatively quiet.
“People are feeling safer, but as the weeks go by there is less confidence in the fact that police can actually deal with this [organized crime],” Canseco said.
“We want to keep tracking this over time,” he said, adding that the next poll will likely be conducted before Vancouver’s civic election in November.
Out of the 63 per cent of residents supporting a regional police force, more men (70 per cent) support the idea than women (56 per cent), the poll suggests.
“The idea of unifying every police force in Metro Vancouver seems much more attractive to men than to women,” Canseco said.
“This is an interesting gender gap, which we didn’t see in other questions.”
The poll found the age of respondents was a factor in the results, with those over the age of 55 (39 per cent) more likely to express confidence in the ability of Metro Vancouver police forces to deal with organized crime than those aged 18 to 34 (36 per cent).
Similarly, 73 per cent of those in the 55-plus age group supported creating a single regional police force, compared to 54 per cent in the 18-to-34 age group and 63 per cent in the 35-to-54 age group.
Overall, the poll found 52 per cent of respondents feel their municipality is as safe now than it was as a year ago — an eight-per-cent increase since November — and 42 per cent stated it was less safe, a nine-per-cent drop.
When asked about the safety of their own neighbourhood, 57 per cent said it is as safe now than it was a year ago, up from 52 per cent since last November, and 36 per cent said it is less safe, a six-per-cent drop.
So while residents of the region are generally feeling safer, more feel the current police forces are not addressing the problem of organized crime and continue to support the creation of a regional police force, Canseco concluded.
The poll was conducted online on May 27 and May 28, 2008, among a randomly selected, representative sample of 400 adult residents of the Metro Vancouver region. The margin of error for the survey is 4.9 percentage points, the company said.
Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan expressed his support earlier this week for a regional police force.
“We need to move to a regional police force,” he said Thursday. “In the city of Vancouver, we have two times as many police per citizen as the city of Burnaby. I believe we now have the highest police per population in Canada. It’s hard on local taxpayers.”
Vancouver police Chief Jim Chu said Thursday: “If you were to design an ideal structure for the region, you wouldn’t design it like it is now, with five municipal forces and several RCMP detachments.”
Vancouver has a population of about 600,000 residents, who pay taxes to cover the cost of policing a city where roughly half of the more than two million people living in the region visit each day to work and go to restaurants, bars and cultural events at night.