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Policing in Canada: Major study reveals four mindsets driving current opinions and future policy preferences

Canadians have watched protests south of the border calling for an end to police violence against Black and other Americans of colour, and participated in protests in this country calling for greater accountability and acknowledgement of what they say is systemic racism in Canadian policing as well.

Now, a comprehensive review of perspectives on policing in this country, from the non-profit Angus Reid Institute, finds a country at once critical and supportive of the police in their communities.

This first installment of a two-part series on policing in Canada finds three-quarters view the police in their community favourably, despite concerns about how officers may treat some demographics. For a similar number, 72 per cent, local police are a source of pride. This includes two-thirds of Indigenous and visible minority respondents.

However, younger Canadians are less likely than their older peers to view the police positively. Those aged 18-24, on average, feel less secure when they see a police officer (38%) than more secure (32%), whereas this tendency is reversed in all older age groups. Similarly, more than one-in-three 18-24-year-olds (37%) view police in their own community unfavourably, compared to just one-in-ten (11%) among those 65 and up.

The landscape of perspectives in Canada includes considerable nuance, such that Angus Reid Institute researchers created the Policing Perspectives Index, which categorizes Canadians based on their attitudes toward police. This report explores the views of the True Blue, Silent Supporters, Ambivalent Observers, and Defunders in great detail.

More Key Findings:

  • Looking at provincial differences, residents of Alberta and Saskatchewan lean the most towards warm perceptions of police, while Ontario has the highest proportion of those with a more negative view.
  • Indigenous people and those who identify as visible minorities are more likely to feel less secure around and less favourable toward police compared to Caucasians, though the proportion who feel the opposite is still higher in each case.
  • Two-thirds of Canadians have had at least one direct interaction with an officer over the past five years. For most, this was a comfortable experience. Negative experiences vary by age, gender, and ethnicity.

Read the rest of the story here: www.angusreid.org

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