THUNDER BAY - A survey conducted by Thunder Bay Police found just under 60 per cent of respondents expressing overall satisfaction with the job that police are doing.
Another 30 per cent were somewhat satisfied, while about 10 per cent were dissatisfied.
The online survey was conducted in the fall of 2016, and received slightly fewer than 1,900 responses.
The results were presented on Tuesday at a meeting of the Thunder Bay Police Services Board.
Acting Chief Sylvie Hauth says police "are up there" in terms of citizen satisfaction, but notes that the data was gathered last year, and police "have had a busy year in 2017."
She said the police service has new initiatives underway and she hopes to be in the "70 per cent satisfied" range and higher this year.
Asked about the potential impact of controversy that has surrounded the police service this year, Hauth said she's not sure how it might affect satisfaction levels.
But she is planning changes in how the survey is conducted in the future, to help ensure that it's reflective of the community.
"I definitely want to have a greater number of people surveyed and I definitely want a more diverse reach in terms of who we're surveying, whether it's including students in our community, our Indigenous population, and any other people that could contribute to those results."
Police calls for service rose sharply last year
The TBPS annual report released Tuesday showed that police were busier responding to calls for service last year than in any year since at least 2012.
In all, officers were dispatched on just under 48,000 occasions, an increase of 11 per cent from 2015..
Chris Adams, director of communications and technology for the police service, said the numbers point to "something dramatic."
Although census data indicates that Thunder Bay Police serve a population of 115,000 to 116,000 in the city and Oliver-Paipoonge, Adams believes the actual number of people living in the city is considerably higher.
"Having said that, if you look at the workload that we're dealing with ... that number is probably going to stay fairly constant this year. As far as resources that we need to do a more thorough job, we probably need more because that population number is not accurate."
Adams said when critics suggest the police force is overstaffed, they need to appreciate the call volume and the responsibilities the service is saddled with.
Police improve access to officer discipline cases
Members of the public can now more easily follow the progress of disciplinary matters involving Thunder Bay police officers.
The TBPS website Professional Standards section displays not only the steps laid out for a discipline process, but also a chart that contains information about upcoming formal hearings, including officers' names, the nature of the offence and the outcome.
That page currently shows what happened in two recent disciplinary cases, and the status of two cases that are still in progress.
Hauth said "We weren't doing it before. I'm really big in terms of transparency and accountability, and being consistent."
She said other police services have implemented something similar.
"It's an easy access point not only for our officers but an easy access point for residents of Thunder Bay to see what is going on and to follow through if they are interested in disciplinary processes."
Hauth noted that the discipline page also shows upcoming hearing dates. Hearings are open to the public.