Halifax Regional Police Chief Dan Kinsella speaks to the board of police commissioners during a meeting on Thursday, Jan. 9, 2020. Photo: Zane Woodford

The municipality is hoping to find out what citizens think of the cops with a new survey, and it’s looking for a polling firm to do the work.

Halifax posted a request for proposals (RFP) Tuesday looking for a contractor for a standing offer to “allow HRP and Halifax District RCMP to establish an ongoing program of measurement of quality of policing services, citizen satisfaction and public confidence in policing in Halifax in a cost-effective manner.”

Narrative Research CEO Margaret Brigley presented the plan for the survey to the Halifax board of police commissioners in February.

Brigley’s accompanying slide deck lays out the plan for a two-phase survey with “professionally moderated” public engagement sessions, then a telephone survey of a random sample of 400 Haligonians and an online survey open to anyone on halifax.ca.

The RFP document posted Tuesday matches that plan, and also asks for proposals “for surveying diverse communities.”

“The provider should propose one or more options for ensuring the views of diverse communities (for example African Nova Scotian, newcomer, LGBTQ2S+, youth, etc.) are included in the surveying and measurement strategy, especially where the views of these communities may not be adequately captured by a population-representative survey,” it says.

Although Brigley gave the presentation in February, Narrative does not have a contract to complete the work and wasn’t paid for the presentation.

“The presentation was part of preliminary discussions only and as such, there was no payment exchanged,” city spokesperson Erin DiCarlo said in an email Thursday.

Narrative gave the presentation to the board “with the mutual understanding that the municipality’s standing offer with Narrative Research, which had been in place for a number of years, was still valid at the time.”

“Following the presentation, it was discovered that the standing offer had expired. As a result, a new RFP process has now been initiated,” DiCarlo said.

Far from the first city survey on attitudes toward police

Halifax has asked residents their views on policing as part of citizen surveys in 2018, 2014, 2012 and 2010, but the new survey comes after a study conducted by Halifax Regional Police and Public Safety Canada aimed at creating a standard set of questions for policing surveys across Canada.

The executive summary of the resulting article, Developing a Common Data Standard for Measuring Attitudes toward the Police in Canada, published last year, says:

Currently, most police services in Canada conduct public attitude surveys on a regular basis; however, no two police services ask the same survey questions, and many police services vary their questions between surveys. These inconsistencies create problems of comparability between jurisdictions and within a given jurisdiction over time. What this means is that we do not have a clear picture of the Canadian public’s attitudes toward police at the national, provincial, or local level.

Narrative Research, then known as Corporate Research Associates, led surveys of more than 500 residents in Halifax, Ottawa and Calgary in 2018

Those surveys led to the creation of a set of standardized questions for police across the country to use to gauge public opinion.

Those questions include asking respondents to what degree they agree with the following statements: “The police make decisions based on facts;” “The police treat people with respect;” “The police provide the same quality of service to all citizens;” “The police are dealing with the things that matter to people in this community;” “I feel a moral duty to follow police orders;” “I generally support how the police usually act;” and “I would help the police if asked.”

Following a CBC report that was critical of the set of questions, the police released a statement clarifying that the questions were not finalized for use for the Halifax survey.

The RFP closes July 14. The municipality couldn’t say when the consultation would begin.

“The timelines will be developed in consultation with the Board of Police Commissioners,” DiCarlo said. “No further information is available at this time.”

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Zane Woodford is the Halifax Examiner’s municipal reporter. He covers Halifax City Hall and contributes to our ongoing PRICED OUT housing series. Twitter @zwoodford

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  1. HRPS needs a better selection system. Too many cops have behavioral issues that seem related to on the job stress and personal issues. There seems to be no training for stress management. At least the Halifax City cops before the amalgamation had the Police Boat Club on the Arm to go commiserate with their fellows to decompress with, etc etc

  2. Oh ffs, really? They’re now going to pay someone to ask me what I think of the police? I can’t even. Look out the window.

  3. HRP were frequent visitors to one property on our block for several years. Very professional. As my granny used to say, ‘They must have the patience of Job’.