The vast majority of Calgarians who took part in this year's police satisfaction survey gave the force high marks overall even as perceptions of fairness were dented in the aftermath of the killing of a Black man by officers in Minnesota.
The survey by the Calgary police commission found that 94 per cent of respondents are satisfied with services provided by the Calgary Police Service (CPS), and the same percentage feel the force can deliver the services needed to keep Calgary safe.
But compared with previous years, perceptions are declining when it comes to whether the service responds in a fair way to all segments of the community and uses authority and force appropriately, the commission said in a release.
Just over 1,000 people were surveyed by phone for the annual citizen satisfaction survey, which was conducted for the Calgary police commission by Illumina Research Partners.
The data was collected from 1,004 adult residents of Calgary between May 6 to July 3.
The survey found that perceptions about whether police treat everyone the same dropped after the killing by police of George Floyd on May 25.
Floyd, a handcuffed Black man, died after the white police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes, even after Floyd pleaded for air and then stopped moving.
His death set off protests in Minneapolis that spread to cities around the United States and the globe. Rallies were also held in Calgary.
"The results for these metrics before George Floyd's death were actually on par with the 2018 results, indicating that the Black Lives Matter and anti-racist movements did impact the survey results," said Angela Storozuk, vice-president of Illumina Research Partners.
Storozuk said the survey began about three weeks before Floyd died and continued for about five weeks after.
"And the results are significantly lower after George Floyd's death compared to before on questions about 'Responds in a fair way in dealing with all segments of the Calgary community' and 'Handling incidents involving people in crisis effectively,'" she said.
On that question, after Floyd was killed, 21 per cent said police do not provide the same level of care to all citizens. Before that incident came to dominate international headlines, just nine per cent felt that way.
"It didn't come as a surprise. We certainly were very interested in seeing those results," said commission chair Bonita Croft.
The survey found that Indigenous and Black Calgarians have lower perceptions of the Calgary police than other groups.
Croft says there is significant work being done around systemic racism, including a newly struck anti-racism committee.
She said the yearly survey is an important tool for the commission to help the CPS become more responsive to all segments of the community.
"The report showed significant declines in agreement since 2018 that CPS prevents crime by working with at-risk youth and by partnering with community agencies to address issues such as mental health, homelessness and substance use," said a release.
The survey is done in compliance with Alberta Provincial Policing Standards, which require formal consultation with the community every four years to capture views of a statistically significant proportion of the population.
For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.