Police plan survey of public's perception of department
[Louisville, KY]

SHANNON TANGONAN, The Courier-Journal
January 31, 2001, Wednesday Met/Metro
Copyright 2001 The Courier-Journal
The Courier-Journal (Louisville, KY.)
January 31, 2001, Wednesday Met/Metro

( LOUISVILLE, KY) -- The police department hopes to get an honest assessment of its performance and learn more about the community's concerns by surveying more than 1,000 residents as soon as next month.

''We need to understand what the community thinks the problems are,'' Chief Greg Smith told about 35 members of a group helping to chart the future of community policing in Louisville.

The department gave a preliminary overview of the telephone survey last night to its Community Oriented Policing Strategic Planning Committee, which is made up of community and police representatives.

Smith said in an interview that he hoped that survey participants will be forthcoming in their responses to the questions, which will not be made public before the assessment. ''We have to take the good with the bad,'' he said.

The survey results could help the department better assign resources and perhaps highlight a need for improvement in certain areas of training, Smith said.

The survey - expected to cost about $ 30,000 - will be conducted by the Regional Community Policing Institute at Eastern Kentucky University. The money will come from a federal grant, said Cindy Shain, a retired lieutenant colonel with the Louisville police department and associate director of the institute.

Lt. Col. Stan Mullen, who is spearheading the department's community oriented policing efforts, said results of the survey should be available in March or April.

The department began serious discussions about the survey in August, Mullen said. It wants the survey to be ''as scientific and unbiased as possible,'' he said.

The survey will take about 10 to 15 minutes to complete, said Dr. Aaron Thompson, a sociology professor at EKU who is developing the questionnaire. Thompson said the survey is ''designed to measure the community perceptions of the police department.''

It will include open-ended questions as well as ratings and scales, Thompson said.

Members of the planning committee had questions about the survey, including a concern about respondents' anonymity. Thompson said the information given to police would not include respondents' names.

A few committee members also expressed a need for focus groups to augment survey results.

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