In North Liberty, the police department wants to ensure this community has full faith and trust in its police. We want to make sure that we live up to the public’s expectations of officers and that we are following the mission of the North Liberty Police Department. Our first public survey was created to see what areas we are doing right, what we need to improve on and to provide an avenue for the community members to have a voice.
We decided to create a survey containing a mix of multiple choice and long-answer questions. We wanted to publish the survey online so we could reach as many people as possible, but also understood one limitation is a person has to have access to a computer. We also wanted a site where we could collect the results in a user-friendly manner. After looking at a few survey sites, the decision was made to go with eSurv. The survey was launched Aug. 22 and concluded Sept. 30, 2016.
We didn’t want the survey to be too long, so we capped it at 14 questions. We asked what the public thought of the department, how the public perceives the department, what crime concerns the participants have, how we can improve and finally the demographics of the participant. It was important to include a comment section so we could find out details from our interactions. The survey was made public at a city council meeting, on the city’s social media sites, the city’s monthly newsletter in the North Liberty Leader newspaper, discussed at the department’s town hall meeting, notification was made by officers and staff during citizen’s contacts and the link to the survey was posted in email correspondence during the time frame.
Overall, we were pleased with the results. Out of the 102 completed surveys, 89 percent said our performance was “Good” to “Excellent.” The majority of the participants had some sort of contact with the department in the preceding 12 months. Most of the contact came at community events. Calls for police services came in a close second. Overall 87 percent of the participants were “Satisfied” or “Very Satisfied” with the overall outcome of the contact.
As for crime concerns, 94 percent of participants thought there was “Low” to “Zero” crime in their neighborhood. We asked participants to select major and minor concerns in their neighborhood. When asked what crime was a major concern to the participants, drug use/sales was the number one response. For minor concerns, the number one category was home/vehicle burglaries. It should also be noted during the survey time frame, we did have multiple vehicle burglaries resulting in the arrest of two suspects.
We asked for the participants to give suggestions for how the department can improve. The most common responses were for more traffic enforcement, better school patrols, citing owners more for animals at large, more social media presence and people would like to see officers just stop and talk to people or wave when driving by. It was also brought up that we need to talk to the officers about driving habits and the use of electronic devices. The results will be shared with all of the officers and we will take active steps to address these concerns. We will also share any comments that are outside of the police department’s control with the appropriate department.
As stated, we are happy with the results, but we want to strive for excellence. We are working on our public image by trying to attend as many functions as possible. In order to get information out to the public quicker, the department started a Twitter account. We also participated in the city’s Snapchat take over. It was a great way to show the public what things are like behind the scenes and to have a little fun. At the beginning of the year, the department created a new school patrol plan. With busing being cut in certain areas, we wanted to make sure we were prepared for the increase in traffic from parents taking their kids to school without blocking traffic, so kids could get to school.
North Liberty overall is a safe place to live, work and play. According to the survey participants, overall the perception is that there is little to no crime in their area, which is a little concerning. Because of people thinking this, we tend to see a lot of crimes happening to people who are caught off guard. A perfect example is car burglaries that happen to people who leave their doors unlocked. With our new Twitter account, hopefully we can reach out to people when the burglaries are happening. We will be able to remind them to lock their cars and remove their valuables from public view.
Even though our approval rating was high, there is always room from improvement. The responses from our survey came from a small portion of our population. We will continue to try to get more valuable feedback from all segments of our community. We anticipate we will be releasing more surveys in the future. Our goal is to have a positive relationship with the North Liberty community. By listening to what the public’s needs and wants are, this department will continue to be professional, responsive to public safety concerns, and continue to be valuable resource for North Liberty.
If there are any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact the North Liberty Police Department.
North Liberty Police