Janesville85.9°

Janesville police department to survey some city residents

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Ted Sullivan
July 6, 2009

Janesville police want you to grade their performance.


The police department is mailing surveys today to 3,000 randomly selected homes throughout the city, Chief Dave Moore said.


The results will help the department know where it needs to improve and guide the department in the future, he said.


"It's going to give us some very specific information as to the needs of the community and how we can better provide police services," Moore said. "This is just one more step in the city's overall customer service strategy."


People who respond to the survey will remain anonymous, Moore said, and the results will be made public.


The police department is spending $5,000 to $6,000 to conduct the survey, Moore said, and the money is coming from its own budget.


"Clearly, if we can be more efficient, the cost of this survey will be returned tenfold," he said.


The survey has several parts:


-- Questions on how safe residents feel throughout the city.


-- Questions on how well police perform certain tasks.


-- Questions on the importance of police programs.


-- Open-ended questions where residents can write answers.


-- And questions about the respondent's demographic information.


The UW-Whitewater Political Science and Public Policy Research Center will analyze the survey's results, said Rebecca Smith, the city's management assistant.


The police department gets feedback through neighborhood meetings, city council meetings and contact with the public, Moore said.


The survey will be an extra source of information to help guide the police department, he said.


Moore proposed the idea to the city manager in February.


"I think it's a great idea, and I think (Moore) has a plan to implement whatever comes out of the survey," City Manager Eric Levitt said. "I think he's looking to identify strengths and weaknesses."


A program randomly selected 3,000 addresses that will receive the survey, Smith said, and the city hopes for a 25 percent response rate.


The surveys will be sorted by patrol area to give officers information about what residents need in their areas, Moore said.


Officers are excited to know the survey's results, even though they could be criticized, he said.


"There is a little bit of risk here," Moore said. "We're going to be having citizens passing judgment on our performance."


The results could spark changes in patrol strategies, police programs or department values and standards, he said.


A second survey will be done in three to five years to determine if the agency has improved, Moore said.


"We're here to serve this community. They don't get to choose us," he said. "I urge the 3,000 people to fill these out, be brutally honest and get them back to us."



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