Surveys are critical in increasing one’s knowledge on a specific topic. Law enforcement agencies use surveys in different capacities and for different reasons. In most cases, law enforcers use surveys to seek a community’s opinion on their policing skills or support a new venture. Regardless of the reason for a survey, justice departments must use the results in bettering their services to the community. Data collection in surveys occurs in different ways, such as face to face interviews, questionnaires, focus groups, telephone interviews, emails, and other internet-based channels. Below is an analysis of surveys used by local police agencies and an evaluation of their viability.
The Virginia Police Department (VPD) conducted a community survey regarding Body Worn Cameras among its officers. The survey intended to seek the community’s opinion on the use of Body Worn Cameras and their impact on security and police-community relations. VPD understood that a successful Body-Worn Camera project required the community and its officers’ support and acceptance. The survey questions were straightforward and focused on six main concepts; increasing community trust, changing suspect and police behavior, rights and privacies, officer accountability, and a query of who possesses the authority to make decisions on videos recorded in the cameras.
These questions were highly effective as they analyzed the community’s perceptions of their privacy rights and police-public relations. For example, one of the questions stated, “Do you believe if you were video recorded by an officer wearing a body-worn camera that any other member of the public should have a right to see those images upon request?” (Virginia Police Department, 2017). Such a question gives the department the community’s opinion on conflicting matters as a video may infringe on a person’s privacy rights and provide evidence for a case. Although the survey offered closed questions with limited choices, it gave the respondents a chance to comment on factors that they found amiss in the last question. A good survey should have an in-depth analysis of a community’s woe. Therefore, the survey should have asked other relevant questions such as the impact of the camera’s on the rate of racial profiling and the ideal consequences that should affect an officer who edits parts of the video for personal gain. Thus, the VPD survey was useful but should have considered more issues that affect community-police relationships. VPD posted the survey online, and respondents could send it back through emails, faxes, or mailed forms.
The second survey is a community satisfaction examination carried out by the Hawaii Police Department (HPD). The survey focused on the locality’s opinion on the impacts of community policing. HPD asked general questions such as whether Hawaii was a safe place to reside, work, or visit. After, it went to more in-depth questions about police-community and civil servant-community interactions. For instance, the survey asked questions on the police officers’ level of respect, concern, expressions of interest to help, integrity, professionalism, and success rates in individual cases (Hawaii Police Department, 2019). The survey was should more interest in minute details concerning police-community interactions.
Similarly, the HPD survey questioned the community’s opinions on civilian employees in the department, their level of help, and professionalism. Although most HPD’s survey questions were closed-ended, it took time to analyze some demographic factors in the respondent’s lives through open-ended questions. The survey inquired about the respondents’ ages, zip codes, and duration of residents. Using demographic factors in the survey was compelling as all information retrieval methods should be weighted to have the most accurate reflection of a community.
The Durham Police Department (DPD) also conducts regular community satisfaction surveys. Its 2013 survey focused on policing factors by asking the respondents to rate the level of safety they feel in the area at night and during the day. DPD also asked questions that were distinct from other police departments. For instance, the survey questioned whether citizens have restricted or increased their social activities due to security concerns. Moreover, the survey asked viable questions such as the community’s opinion on the growth or decline of crime in Durham over the year (Durham Police Department, 2013). The survey also askes questions such as levels of crimes that have affected residents individually. Just like HPD, the DPD survey also inquired about respondent interactions with the police. However, DPD increased its scope of demographic information by asking respondents’ ages, residence, homeownership status, educational level, gender, and the number of children. The extensive list of questions makes DPD’s results more viable when compared to HPD and VPD.
An analysis of a 1986 community survey by the Michigan Police Department (MPD) shows that not much has changed over the decade. Departments still utilize similar technologies and survey methods. They also still ask similar questions, which receive paralleling responses each year. Such responses show that most police departments may participate in community surveys because they are mandatory and not to maximize their services. The 1986 survey focused on police-community interactions, emphasizing brutality, and profiling. It also asked respondents for their opinions of the top investigative priorities and the police services necessary for locality safety. The survey also inquired on demographic factors such as homeownership, duration of residence, and the respondent’s sexual orientation. Despite the survey’s presence, results from Michigan’s succeeding years show minimal changes in survey statistics. Thus, police departments must learn to conduct extensive surveys and use their findings to better community safety and trust.
A quality survey ensures that it uses reliable sampling strategies and scientific data analysis methods. Its sampling must cover all demographic details such as a residence (ward), age, gender, race or ethnicity, household size and income, and educational levels. Additionally, it must cover aspects such as social interaction among police officers and citizens. Such a survey measures officers’ accountability, transparency, passion, and respect for human rights. The Lexington Police Department (LPD) manages to cover all these aspects in its community satisfaction survey. The survey asks significant questions such as whether the resident’s neighborhood has a citizen crime watch group. It also inquires on the participant’s opinion in participation in such a group (Lexington Police Department, 2019). Unlike the other department, the LPD survey questions individual security measures and their effectiveness to gain information in steps necessary to implement change. The survey also asks the respondents to describe factors that may lead to crime in the area while emphasizing viable issues such as racial intolerances, drug abuse, and poverty. LPD’s survey is extensive as it focuses on the duration one has lived in the area, age, household size and income, rent, employment status, race, and firearm possession.
Although all departments offered practical questions in their surveys, my least favorite is form VPD as it completely overlooked demographic information, which is critical in understanding respondent predispositions. The second least favorite is MPD, as it also ignored essential demographic and security factors, which failed to provide viable statistics necessary to implement change. HPD and DPD provided similar survey methods that were highly effective but lacked all the necessary demographic information. Finally, the survey carried out by LPD was the most viable and effective due to its extensive use of demographic and police-community interaction information to derive data.
Durham Police Department. (2013). Community survey. https://www.theiacp.org/sites/default/files/2018-08/2013DurhamPDCommunitySurvey.pdf.
Hawaii Police Department. (2019). Community satisfaction survey 2019. https://www.hawaiipolice.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/2019-Survey-Questions-Responses.pdf.
Lexington Police Department. (2019). Lexington public safety questionnaire. org/lexington-police-department-ma“>https://www.theiacp.org/lexington-police-department-ma.
Virginia Police Department. (2017). Community survey regarding body-worn camera policy. file:///C:/Users/user/AppData/Local/Temp/393026007_2017_Body_Worn_Camera_Survey_Virginia_PD_1_6083631948641028.pdf.
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