Skip to main content

How Police Departments Conduct Their Surveys: 5 Methods

Ian Muiruri is a passionate educator who has been teaching high school for over 3 years. He believes that every student has potential.

Community policing

Community policing


A survey is an essential tool for researchers because it creates room for discovery, evaluation, and concrete analysis based on data representation. Police departments use a police-community survey to evaluate their overall performance within a region.

Thus, they also ensure that the residents get maximum satisfaction based on their services and feel safe within the society.

Further, police agencies can conduct surveys to identified areas filled with disparities and correct the factors influencing such cases. They also get a chance to improve in some areas through the answers they obtain from the different participants and create the best relationship between citizens and police. Therefore, this paper will describe some examples of local police agencies' surveys and evaluate the best surveys that enhance public safety and reliability.

1. Victimization Survey

A victimization survey is conducted to collect data about crimes within the community. The crimes involved are sexual assault, harassment within the society and schools, violence, and child abuse. Additionally, data is collected to analyze the number of responses made to law enforcement and determine the actions taken to punish the offenders. It is an essential survey because it allows the police department to gather all the suspects' information before building a case among them.

During the survey, households are selected randomly, and all the responses provided are confidently stored and analyzed for the safety of the public (Kruttschnitt, Kalsbeek, House, & Council, 2014). They also gather information about public expectations, victims' level of satisfaction, and improve the department technique in collecting data. The survey can be conducted through cell phones using the RDD Telephone Surveys or internet survey approach where participation is voluntary.

Furthermore, data collected is used to obtain the trend in violence in a given location, factors fueling the tendency, and predicting future crimes so that they can put the right measures for safety. It may not be the best, where the participant chose to withhold information to defend the offender. However, if they fully participate, it can be allowing the police department to increase public safety. Therefore, information confidentiality should be highly assured so that participants can fully cooperate.

2. Police Response Survey

Police departments work to ensure safety within the society. However, they can win the community's trust through their attitude and behavior, such as how quickly they respond to victims or witnesses when they are reported. Such a survey can be done by the police department to evaluate its effectiveness within the community. For instance, if the police get to the crime scene in time and manage to prevent further damage, more people would be motivated to report cases as they happen rather than taking actions into their hands. Further, the response rate determines whether policies need to change within an institution (Nix, Pickett, Baek, & Alpert, 2019).

Police agencies get an opportunity to identifies areas where they are short-staffed to ensure a quicker response to the victim's calls. The survey can conduct through the internet web approach where citizens give their responses through the department website. Statisticians can also evaluate the call time and response time before the police reached the crime scene. However, the survey should be conducted every month to ensure that a timely response is maintained as organizational culture.

3. Individual Sttribute Survey

This type of survey is widely used in the most police department in The US and Canada. It is used to evaluate the police work's public perception, thus giving insight into the law enforcement department about the department's overall performance. The questions asked in the questioner are primarily about the public feels about the safety of a given region, and any time of the day (Maslov, 2015).

Public attitude on law enforcement determines the rate of crime reports, and if it is effective, it reduces actions fueled by rage since citizens believe in criminal justice.

Scroll to Continue

It also analyzes data about the public's responses about officers' attributes where they ask questions related to who the public feels safe to contact during emergencies. They are also asked to suggest areas that need improvement by the police officers who have been their service in the past. Hence, the department gets a chance to enforce the rules and conduct fair service provision to the public.

4. Police-Community Interaction Survey

A Police-community interaction survey was invented to evaluate the interaction that society has with the police department. It collects data that allows law enforcement to evaluate the recent interaction with the society members and determine the effectiveness.

PCIS allows the police department to model their justice procedures and maximize public satisfaction (Rosenbaum et al., 2017). It also allows the researchers to rank the police departments region wide or nationwide based on their performance to increase public satisfaction. So far, it has proven to be effective within police agencies.

5. Ethnic Survey

An ethnic survey is vital for all government departments because the world is filled with diversified cultures. Through globalization, people from different ethnicity and races are forced to work together to promote equality. However, the police department uses the survey to identify the minority groups and how they feel about their position. Some may not be fully satisfied with how things such as assignments, partnerships, promotions run within their department. Therefore, some minority groups are asked to provide their opinion on things they need to change to promote equality at the workplace.

Additionally, the police department conducts the ethnic survey to ensure that each group represents the sectors despite how minor they seem. Thus, this ensures that all the groups feel welcome to join the police force without any discrimination. The community also feels well represented and gains more confidence in seeking guidance or reporting crimes since the negative perception about discrimination within law enforcement agencies is eliminated. Therefore, this type of survey is useful in correcting ethnic disparity at workplaces.

Your Opinion

Which is The Best Survey Technique?

The best example of a survey is the police-community interaction because it gathers wider information based on the overall performance within the department. It allows the community to communicate their expectations based on the previous interaction with the police officers, giving the department knowledge about what is expected of them.

Further, it allows the departments to re-evaluate their justice system, procedures, and organizational structure to see whether changes are needed to increase their performance. Additionally, it carries all the procedures for all the other surveys since it evaluates the individual performance, which allows them to identifies the dysfunctional department or the short-staffed one and implement plans that cater to that to reduce disparity (Rosenbaum et al., 2017).

Listening to the community about their suggestion allows the police agencies to provide better services while the public feels like their opinion matters; thus, confidence between them and the police is created.

Which is The Worst Survey Technique?

The individual attribute survey was my least favorite during the research. It involved obtaining data based on the police performance in their department and how the community feels about the services they provide. However, the survey may not be instrumental because people can cover for one officer despite the mistakes, or crucify another based on their attitude.

It is also not free of nepotism as people may give an opinion based on culture, where they would favor their community members. The survey does not also cover a wide range of information, where if a department is infilled with rookies, it might be ranked as the worst despite their effort to provide public services.


Therefore, the results obtained from such a survey may not necessarily be biased. Lastly, one poor-performing officer may affect the whole department's reputation, which does not justify their under-performance.


Kruttschnitt, C., Kalsbeek, W., House, C., & Council, N. R. (2014). Estimating the Incidence of Rape and Sexual Assault. The National Academies Press. doi:10.17226/18605

Maslov, A. (2015). Measuring the Performance of the Police: The Perspective of the Public. Canada: Public Safety Canada.

Nix, J., Pickett, J. T., Baek, H., & Alpert, G. (2019). Police Research Officer Surveys and Response Rates. Policing and Society: An International Journal of Research and Policy, 29(5), 530-550. Retrieved from

Rosenbaum, D. M., Lawrence, D., Escamilla, J., Enciso, G., Christoff, T., & and Posick, C. (2017). The Police-Community Interaction Survey: Measuring Police Performance in New Ways. Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management, 40(1), 112-127. Retrieved from

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2020 Ian Muiruri

Related Articles