Vermillion Police Department conducts second community survey
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Vermillion Police Department conducts second community survey

The Vermillion Police Department is in the process of collecting their second community survey in order to gauge what the concerns of the community are.

“The goal is to try to get a feel of what the community thinks of our service, what kind of services they’d like us to have, what kind of issues they think are the problems in the community,” said VPD Chief Matt Betzen.

The department has collected about 350 surveys so far, and would like to see more than 500 total.

“I think right now if I had to guess, I’d guess we’re probably around 90 percent (confidence level) with roughly a five percent margin of error with the 300 surveys. So if we can pull that up a little bit more, maybe we can get a little higher than that,” he said. “But I think it gives you an idea of what the community as a whole thinks, which is the goal.”

Vermillion community members were also surveyed in 2012. Betzen said only 200 responses were received.

According to the 2012 Community Survey Report, on a five-point scale, overall safety in Vermillion was rated at a 4.1 and the overall rating of VPD was a 4.0.

There were seven conclusions that could be determined from the data, according to the the report. They include:

  • Citizens have suggested more concern about their safety while walking at night relative to other safety issues. Women were even more concerned than men.
  • The three types of activities that citizens are most concerned about are underage drinking, drug use or dealing and open alcohol container violations. Men are less concerned about these activities than women.
  • There is agreement among homeowners and renters that being robbed or having their house or car broken into is of greater concern than other specific criminal activities. Homeowners are more concerned than renters about being a victim of scams or having their identity stolen.
  • The overall rating of the Vermillion Police Department on a scale from disappointing to exceptional suggests that citizens rate the department as close to exceptional.
  • There is a positive relationship between the perception of citizens that the police are more visible in their neighborhood and perceptions that the overall performance of the department is closer to exceptional.
  • Of the many non-criminal related services delivered by the department, citizens are most aware of escorts for special events and DUI Focus patrols. The least well known programs include the Bike Rodeo, Youth Explorer Program and Community Policing through Environmental Design. No matter the awareness level, respondents were clear that all of the services should be continued. However, because many did not offer an opinion about whether to continue programs or not, this group of questions needs further analysis.
  • The results suggest that the overall perceptions of the police department aren’t impacted by where the respondents live in the city; all four quadrants of the city rate the department high.

Betzen attributes much of the positive survey results in 2012 to the department’s communication training.

“It’s basically a way to deal with confrontational situations, which is what our job is, in a way that is not as antagonist and ego-driven and thereby reduces the chance of violence against the officer, and reduces the need to use force to gain compliance,” he said.

Crisis intervention training, another 40-hour class, has also been added in the last year and a half. Betzen said this training teaches officers more about how to respond to acute or chronic mental distress such as a breakdown or suicidal threats.

Ultimately, the goal is to keep the community safe, he said.

“We’re trying to get an idea of where we’re at and what we can do to be better, basically,” he said.