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San Diego launches surveys to gauge public trust in police

Posted at 5:06 PM, Nov 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-01 20:06:30-04

SAN DIEGO (CNS) - City leaders in San Diego Monday announced a planned series of public surveys designed to gauge local citizens' levels of trust in the police and general attitudes toward public-safety issues.

The civic opinion-gathering effort will take place via a partnership between the San Diego Police Department and Zencity, a global technology company that seeks to redefine community engagement to help build better local governments, according to city officials.

Mayor Todd Gloria called the program "a great step toward really understanding the needs and concerns of our residents to make the best decisions for the future of public safety in our city."

"Making decisions on public safety should involve input from the public, and this new tool allows us to do just that," Gloria said during a midday briefing. "These surveys will have a much broader reach into our communities by putting (the questionnaires) on the apps and websites people use most. While we've collected extensive data over the years, this tool gives us a chance to connect with residents quickly and directly, offering us real-time sentiments."

Starting this week, surveys translated into seven languages will begin to appear to San Diegans through digital ads in various online sites, such as news web pages, social media platforms, blogs and apps. Participants' responses will help analysts measure the levels of trust that people have in their communities, while also identifying key concerns that residents want the police to address.

"This survey (program) allows us to engage and collaborate with our community in new ways," SDPD Chief David Nisleit said. "It will help us understand how residents across San Diego feel about police in their communities, make improvements based on that feedback and monitor how that sentiment changes over time."

In under five minutes, San Diegans can let the Police Department and city leaders know how they feel about various law enforcement-related topics. Questions will include:

  • When it comes to the threat of crime, how safe do you feel in your neighborhood?
  • How much do you agree with this statement: The police in my neighborhood treat local residents with respect?
  • How much do you agree with this statement: The police in my neighborhood listen to and take into account the concerns of local residents?
  • What is the No. 1 issue or problem on your block or in your neighborhood that you would like the police to deal with?

The surveys -- which will not gather or track names or other personal data of respondents -- will typically gather 1,000 responses from San Diegans each month, across all divisions of the San Diego Police Department.

Once an ample sampling of responses has been received, SDPD will work with Zencity to create public "dashboards" reflecting the sentiments expressed by residents on the SDPD's website.

In addition to an ongoing general survey, the SDPD's partnership with Zencity includes the ability to develop two customized questionnaires per year. The department will be able to utilize the feature to gauge public sentiment on policy or other public-safety initiatives being explored in San Diego.

Zencity's scores will reflect the diversity of San Diego's neighborhoods, incorporating voices from every segment of the community, according to city officials. To do so, the company sets response targets based on U.S. Census data on the districts and areas measured.

Survey responses will be strictly anonymous, unless a respondent chooses to share an email address for follow-up purposes, in which case the participants' sentiments will be kept confidential.

Locals taking part in the effort will respond to three questions to create scores measuring their level of trust in police and how safe they feel in their community. Zencity will then generate monthly scores representing the average response among residents of various neighborhoods, weighted to match the areas' unique demographics, according to city officials.

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