Durham Police Department, NH
Chief Dave Kurz was hired from outside the department and given specific instructions by the Town Council to “be a change agent that would prepare the department for the new millennium”. He saw his role as one that would guide the department to wherever the community wanted it to go. The tool that would contribute to the development of that roadmap would be the community survey.
The Durham Police Department had never used a survey that asked its’ client base their opinions pertaining to safety, programs that were desired or not, their perceptions of the department and its’ responsiveness to these issues. As host to the University of New Hampshire (UNH) and 12,000 students, Durham can be two distinctly different communities. During the day, it is the quintesstentail New England college town with students carrying backpacks with books and at night the same backpacks contain alcoholic beverages. This unique environment had to be incorporated in the survey. Using the UNH Survey Department and a grad student looking for a real-life project, a fifty-question survey was sent to each property using the Town’s Assessing Department’s database for mailings. By working with the U.S. Post Office, bulk mail rates and a mechanism that allowed for only those surveys returned to be billed to the department saved considerable funds. Contacting the local media to produce an article about the survey as well as using the community’s local access television acted as a marketing strategy resulting in a 47% return.
The survey results allowed the organization to focus limited resources upon issues that were deemed important by the community and transition from those that were not. To the department’s surprise pedestrian violations and safety were identified as the number one citizen concern. These facts eliminated anecdotal discussion and allowed for the development of a very comprehensive strategy that included additional personnel to address the community concern. The community saw in a very real way that the department was using the results of the survey to make changes and praised the organization for doing so. The staff, feeling the gratitude, recognized the importance of asking the community what it desired.
If you are interested in posting your surveys on the IACP Website, please contact Christina Horst.