Using surveys to measure attitudes towards police

There are two major types of surveys that police departments use; post-contact surveys and general attitude surveys.

Post-contact surveys ask about a specific interaction with police. For example you may send a follow up after someone filed a police report, or after someone was pulled over. Doing follow ups has been shown to improve attitudes, and having regular post-contact forms is an effective way to monitor police service delivery.

General attitude surveys ask questions about the overall attitudes of the police department, e.g. “Do you think the police do a good job?”. Those types of general surveys also commonly ask about problems citizens feel should be prioritized by the city, e.g. rank these 5 items in terms of problems you want the police to address. General attitude surveys are important to have effective coverage (not just a convenience sample of individuals who answered at a community meeting or responded to a Facebook post), and use statistical methods to account for differential response. Surveys that do not take these steps are unlikely to be representative of actual opinions held by individuals in the community.

Like many services, CRIME De-Coder can provide more cost effective solutions compared to larger firms for conducting surveys. For general attitude surveys, for paper based surveys some large firms charge $60,000 per year. For web-based advertisements, one example firm charged Chicago over $200,000.

CRIME De-Coder has provided a blue print that is much cheaper for general attitude surveys, costing police departments less than $10,000 for equivalent work to the above two examples. This was the winning solution to the National Institute of Justice’s Innovations in in Measuring Community Perceptions Challenge. Check the CRIME De-Coder demo’s for an example of creating a dynamic survey instrument embedded directly on your site.

For post-contact surveys, they can similarly be entirely automated, using either text messaging tools, or handing out business cards with survey links, greatly reducing the overall price.

If you are interested in survey development and implementation for your department, get in touch with CRIME De-Coder today!