City officials are using a survey to track how the community perceives the Durham Police Department.
The survey, which indicated 61 percent of residents think the department is trying hard to maintain good relations with the community, will be taken annually, Police Chief C.J. Davis said.
The survey confirmed the department needs to look more at crime prevention compared to response, she said. “And of course citizens always want to see police, so the visibility piece was really important for us as well,” she said.
Davis started as Durham’s top cop in June, the same month the survey was administered.
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Respondents indicated crime prevention, police visibility in neighborhoods and police response time to emergencies should be priorities in the next two years.
▪ 53 percent were satisfied with police performance in their neighborhood 24 percent were neutral, 12 percent were dissatisfied and 9 percent didn’t know.
▪ 33 percent were satisfied with efforts to prevent crime, 31 percent were neutral, 19 percent were dissatisfied and 17 percent didn’t know.
▪ 40 percent were satisfied with police visibility in neighborhoods, 30 percent were neutral, 25 percent were dissatisfied and 5 percent didn’t know.
▪ 44 percent were satisfied with police response to emergencies, 22 percent were neutral, 11 percent were dissatisfied and 23 percent didn’t know.
About the survey: Kansas-based marketing research firm ETC Institute, which specializes in community surveys for city and county governments, mailed the five-page survey to a random sample of Durham households in June.
With responses from 528 households, the results have a 95 percent level of confidence.
The survey, which cost $22,250, was shared with the Police Department in August and presented to the City Council in February. The survey was sought by the Police Department before Davis was hired. City officials waited to present the survey to the City Council because they wanted to compare it to the general city survey that was administered in November, City Manager Tom Bonfield said.
Who were the respondents: About 46 percent of the respondents were black, 43 percent were white and 5 percent were other. About 11 percent were Hispanic.
About 31 percent of the respondents’ household income was more $100,000. About 25 percent was $99,999 to $60,000. About 19 percent was $59,000 to $30,000. About 13 percent was less than $30,000. Twelve percent didn’t provide household income.
About 25 percent indicated they had a positive interaction with police in the past 12 months, and 7 percent were involved in an officer initiated enforcement action, such as a traffic stop or an arrest. About 24 percent interacted with an officer responding to a 911 call.
About 13 percent indicated that they or someone in their household had been victims of crime in the past 12 months.
What city officials said: City Council members said, in general, the results were positive.
City Councilman Steve Schewel pointed out that 29 percent said they expected relations between the Police Department and the minority community to get better.
Schewel linked that results to Davis starting as Durham’s top cop, along with some of the changes in the department.
“I think people are hoping for better and predicting better,” Schewel said.
Davis linked the issue to a national spotlight on the racial tension issue with various agencies working toward improvements.
About 50 people attended a street block party Saturday across the street from the new $71 million Durham police headquarters on East Main Street.
Speakers called for an end to police and sheriff’s checkpoints, an end to any collaboration with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in Durham, and an end to all minor traffic stops in Durham.
Organizers – members of the Durham Beyond Policing coalition (including Black Youth Project 100, Southerners on New Ground, and the #SayHerName collective) – also called for no increase in Durham’s police budget for fiscal year 2017-18.
Police Chief C.J. Davis recently announced her department would end motor-vehicle checkpoints except for Booze It & Lose It and Click It or Ticket operations conducted in collaboration with other agencies.
But Roxana Bendezú of Alerta Migratoria said checkpoints of any kind create a “pipeline to deportation,” as those who get arrested get fingerprinted and those fingerprints can flag those in the country illegally for ICE detainers.
Many people don’t understand that the Sheriff’s Office also conducts checkpoints, she said.
Speaker Greg Williams of the Inside-Outside Alliance urged the crowd to oppose Sheriff Mike Andrews’ plan to implement video visitation at the Durham County jail. Five alliance supporters were arrested last week after interrupting a county commissioners meeting to protest the plan, which the sheriff is implementing for safety, among other reasons.
“This is not a done deal, and they’re not hearing from us,” Williams said. “It is going to take more than five arrests to stop this debate.”
Staff writer Mark Schultz