U.S. DOJ Offers Police Polling Software to Cities

The U.S. Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics is offering cities new software for polling citizens on their attitudes toward policing.

The software contains standardized questions on hate crimes and other issues and is available in beta version at (www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/).

"We've been getting a lot of calls from police departments that want to survey their own cities," said Steven Smith, chief of BJS' Adjudication and Law Enforcement Units. "We are now in the Information Age, and police departments want to know what their customers are thinking and how they can better serve them."

BJS is nearing the end of its National Crime Victimization Survey in 12 cities. Responses are being used to build a database on citizen perceptions of community policing and other neighborhood issues.

The national survey included Chicago; Los Angeles; Madison, Wis.; Tucson, Ariz.; and Washington, D.C.

"What we've done is closed out the field work we did in '98, and we're weeks away from releasing our report done from the data gathered from the 12 cities and opening up the database associated with that work," Smith said.

Some typical questions used in the surveys include: How satisfied are you with the quality of life in your neighborhood? How fearful are you about crime in your neighborhood? In general, how satisfied are you with the police who serve your neighborhood?

The project also aimed to test Random Digit Dialing methods for completing such a telephone-based survey.

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