NEWSTALK 1010 POLL: Mark Saunders gets lowest Toronto police chief approval rating in 18 years

69% of Torontonians approve of the job Mark Saunders has done as Chief of Police over the last year.

That's among the findings of "The Pulse of Toronto", an exclusive poll by DART Insight and Communications commissioned by NEWSTALK 1010.

While the approval sounds solid, veteran pollster John Wright says it is the lowest rating of a Toronto police chief in 18 years.

Looking at previous NEWSTALK 1010 polls, Wright says Saunders' predecessors fared better at roughly this point in their tenure: Bill Blair with an approval rating of 80%, 78% for Julian Fantino and 74% for David Boothby.

DART's survey for NEWSTALK 1010 was done in mid-September, before Saunders revealed he would undergo a kidney transplant. Saunders is on leave, recovering from surgery on October 2. The Chief told CTV News before the surgery that he had been undergoing seven to eight hours of at-home dialysis for a little over a year.

Wright says Saunders' health problems may help explain some of the polling number.

"The Chief, since his first days in office has been a fairly quiet kind of chief compared to others, not as accessible. And I don't know how much that plays on somebody's own personal heath.

"However, it's the perceptions that matter in this city," Wright tells NEWSTALK 1010.

Mayor John Tory expressed nothing but confidence in Saunders on Moore in the Morning Thursday.

"People should trust him. He's got huge policing experience. He's a very decent man of integrity. And I think when he gets back from his operation he's going to be able to be at it full-bore and will continue to do a great job for the people of Toronto."

Tory does believe health problems and Saunders' having a quieter personality than some of his predecessors have contributed to the chief's lower profile.

 

Other highlights from "The Pulse of Toronto" from NEWSTALK 1010 and DART:

-61% say they'd be scared if they were pulled over by a police officer for no apparent reason.
-A 2003, NEWSTALK 1010 poll found 34% would be frightened by how an officer might treat them if they were pulled over and suspected of something
-63% believe many, most or all police officers get preferred treatment when charged with a crime or misconduct
-51% believe many, most or all police officers never really ge punished for wrongdoing on or off the job
-44% believe many, most or all police officers discriminately racially profile dark-skinned Torontonians
-35% believe many, most or all police officers rough up suspects especially if they have dark skin or live in certain neighbourhoods
-33% believe many/most, or all police officers are adequately trained to deal with people in mental health crisis
-28% believe many, most or all police officers lie in court or falsify notes to get a conviction
-72% believe the Toronto Police Association cars more about its members than citizens and policing
-51% believe the Toronto Police Association has credibility in speaking on behalf of its membership
-76% believe police are paid more than enough to do their job
-72% believe police and security forces are being proactive to prevent terrorist attacks
-58% believe police and security forces are prepared to deal with a terror attack in Toronto, up from 35% in a 2005 NEWSTALK 1010 poll
-64% don't believe a terror attack is imminent
-53% believe there are would-be terrorists posing as refugees

DART Insight conducted an online survey of 814 Torontonians September 16-19, 2017. The poll is considered accurate +/- 3.9 percentage points 19 times out of 20. A full report with data tables can be found at dartincom.ca/polls.