How to Build Trust With Police-Community Interaction Surveys

Ready to increase response rates and gather citizen feedback from key interactions? Discover the benefits of automated community feedback surveys today.

April 30, 2024

Article Highlights

Trust is an industry buzzword, especially in law enforcement today. In light of recent and tragic incidents, the focus on “building trust” makes sense. Trust is the cornerstone of the police-community relationship, after all. Without it, agencies cannot serve the community as effectively.

Although best practices are important, let’s dig a little deeper and ask, “What is the foundation of trust?”

The foundation of trust is experience. Not a one-off experience, but consistent experiences over time.

For example, every interaction between a police officer and a citizen is a data point. At first, it’s just a data point for the officer and the citizen involved. When the citizen tells their family and friends about the incident, it becomes a data point for them as well. If the incident makes the news, it’s a data point for the community or even the nation. Similarly, when an officer files an incident report, or when a body/dash cam is reviewed, it becomes a data point for the agency.

These data points, or experiences, create a narrative. Eventually, narratives become beliefs that either build or break trust. They either cause unity or division.

Without a reliable method of collecting and reviewing these experiences, law enforcement agencies miss out on citizen feedback that can improve operations, raise morale, and ultimately build trust.

Importance of citizen feedback

Even if your agency documents and analyzes interactions via CAD systems and MDTs, the data is limited to facts and the respective officer’s point of view. Barring some kind of community feedback mechanism, you miss the citizen’s perspective of the interaction.

If the interaction was positive, you miss the chance to encourage the officer and raise morale. If the interaction was negative, you miss the opportunity for corrective action.

So in addition to giving your community a voice, citizen feedback helps your agency identify knowledge gaps and improve training.

When done well, citizen feedback becomes the catalyst for positive change. As you better understand community needs, you can improve service and build trust. This creates a positive cycle of citizen feedback that raises officer morale.

In an age when officer morale is at an all time low and burnout is at an all time high, your officers need encouragement and positive reinforcement. Unfortunately, most feedback tools aren’t designed for positive feedback. Instead, they seem to attract complaints, deliver low response rates, and take a lot of time to set up.

Challenges with common citizen feedback systems

Many agencies use manual and/or traditional tools to collect citizen feedback:

  • Public meetings or town halls
  • Community advisory boards
  • Focus groups
  • Surveys and polls
  • Monitoring social media
  • Online feedback forms

Even some of the more modern tools struggle to provide productive feedback. Surveys and polls are often generic, sent infrequently, and ignored by citizens. Social media channels and online feedback forms are mostly used by unhappy citizens with a complaint. Some of the feedback may be helpful and productive, but some people are just looking for a place to vent.

Fortunately, there are automated tools designed for law enforcement to collect citizen feedback. Solutions like police-community interaction surveys save you time and deliver better results. Learn how two agencies solved their citizen feedback challenges in this webinar.

Automated tools to collect citizen feedback

Police-Community Interaction Surveys

These surveys are aptly named. They measure citizen satisfaction with an officer interaction via text.

Also called community feedback surveys, they are automatically sent to the citizens you choose: people who recently interacted with your agency and who match the CAD and RMS data of your choosing.

Police-community interaction surveys have a much higher response rate. For example, the PowerEngage survey feature has a 37% response rate, which is three times higher than other survey tools.

Community Engagement Software (Surveys & More)

With PowerEngage, survey results are aggregated into a real-time dashboard that you can track and report on over time. Positive feedback is automatically emailed to your staff and displayed on large screens throughout your department to provide recognition and boost morale.

The PowerEngage system makes it easy to share citizen feedback with internal leaders, external stakeholders, and officers. It also tracks citizen satisfaction trends over time, combining that data into something called a Citizen Positive Satisfaction Score (CPSS). 90% of PowerEngage customers have a 90% CPSS score or higher.

At the end of the day, PowerEngage is more than a community feedback survey. It’s an agency-wide solution for gathering citizen feedback, showcasing agency accomplishments, and boosting morale.

As you better understand community needs with PowerEngage, everything else starts falling into place. You can improve services to the community, build trust, and prove impact – all of which help you justify more resources allocated to your agency.

How automated surveys build trust

Earlier in the article, we explored how “consistent experience over time” either builds or breaks trust. Experiences form beliefs about whether a person or an institution is trustworthy.

Every police-citizen interaction is a data point that supports one of two narratives: law enforcement in my community is trustworthy, or it’s not.

Police-citizen interaction surveys give citizens a voice. Every text survey creates a positive touchpoint. Every case update via text creates a positive touchpoint (yes, PowerEngage does this too).

The same is true for police officers. Every interaction with a citizen supports one of two narratives: My service to the community is making a difference, or it’s not.

Community feedback surveys (and the ability to share citizen feedback) improve officer morale and agency culture. Every email sharing positive feedback provides positive reinforcement. Every positive comment displayed publicly on an agency screen creates job satisfaction. 

How to get started

Wondering if automated survey solutions are right for your agency? Start by conducting an audit and asking these questions:

  • How do you currently collect citizen feedback?
  • How much “manpower” does it take?
  • Is the result worth the effort?
  • Do your officers struggle with low morale?
  • Could your agency benefit from a more positive culture?

Without a reliable method of collecting and analyzing citizen feedback, you miss opportunities to improve operations, identify training gaps, and boost officer morale.

Learn how PowerEngage can help your agency automate surveys, measure citizen satisfaction, and ultimately retain officers longer.

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