What People Want (and Expect) From Their Police

community-policing

What People Want (and Expect) From Police

A recent survey shows how Americans feel about the job police are doing and how they can improve.

A survey from Governing magazine as tensions between police and the citizens they serve continue to concern Americans.

By Mike Maciag, Governing Magazine, April 27, 2015

The vast majority of the 2,000 adults surveyed indicated they felt safe in their communities, but 76 percent still reported room for improvement. The survey, conducted in late 2014, was limited to 14 of the nation’s larger metro areas; the results are not representative of the country as a whole.

  • Community policing-related efforts preferred

Accenture asked respondents to identify steps police could take to be more effective. While no response received a majority of votes, results suggest community policing efforts enjoy particularly strong support. Lower scores for technology-related improvements may have resulted from citizens’ unfamiliarity of how tools work and their potential benefits, according to the report.

  • Where there’s room for improvement

The vast majority of those surveyed (85 percent) indicated they were either “very” or “somewhat” satisfied with police services. Still, most residents identified at least one area in need of improvement. Reducing crime and partnering with residents, by a slight margin, were the top two identified factors needing at least some improvement.

The survey also found that respondents living in cities were more likely (87 percent) to indicate police agencies had room for improvement than those living in suburbs (68 percent). 

  • Citizens report they’re willing to collaborate

The Accenture survey further attempted to gauge residents’ preferences for collaborating with police. Results suggest the majority of residents are open to working with police but are most likely to do so anonymously.

A fairly large share of residents also expressed interest in community-policing related activities, such as neighborhood watch programs.

  • Suggestions vary across age groups

An open-ended survey question asking about suggested improvements yielded major differences across age groups. Overall, older residents favored technology upgrades, while others expressed more support for community-related initiatives.

Question: If you could speak with your police chief to suggest one thing you feel would improve police services in your neighborhood, what would you say?

Suggestion 18-34 yrs 35-54 yrs  55+yrs
Community relations; listen to residents, get to know each other better 30% 79% 6% 7%
More technology / more cameras / website/ other ways to let us know what is going on in our neighborhood 26% 8% 7% 64%
Neighborhood watch / facilitate crime reporting — get the community more involved in reporting crime, provide alternative ways to report crime 23% 4% 56% 4%
Better attitudes / more respect / friendlier & more polite officers 22% 4% 54% 3%
More police visibility — more patrolling /foot patrols 32% 43% 26% 28%
More communication 15% 2% 2% 44%

SOURCE: Accenture U.S. Citizen Survey Research

See the full article HERE.