[quote]We need to know what the citizens think so we can bring (their concerns) back to the table.[/quote]

Elon University and the City of Burlington Police Department are teaming up for a triennial citizen satisfaction survey. Elon students in a public administration senior seminar partnered with the police department for the 2009 survey, but this year, Adam Short, public administration and political science lecturer, will be analyzing the data with his policy analysis and program evaluation class. The survey ends Feb. 29, and from there, the data will be collected and organized. The survey results will most likely be released in June, according to Short.

“We’re helping with (the survey) for a couple of reasons,” Short said. “One is that it’s a good way to help the community to bring some of the university resources to bear on that. Another thing is that it gives our students a hands-on way to learn about how we do citizen surveys, and we analyze the results from it, so that it’s kind of a real practical application, something that our public administration majors or political science majors may end up doing when they get into their respective careers.”

Kim Biebel, accreditation manager in the professional standards division of the Burlington Police Department, said she hopes this year’s survey will have more respondents than the 2009 survey, which gathered 350 responses. Only about half of these respondents have had recent contact with the police department.

The Burlington Police Department is an accredited agency with the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies and is required to do a citizen satisfaction survey every three years, according to Biebel. But meeting standards isn’t the only purpose the survey serves.

“We need to know what the citizens think so we can bring (their concerns) back to the table,” Biebel said. “We’ll use that information to set a foundation for any organizational change or ongoing successes because it will help us improve our overall performance.”

Chris Verdeck, assistant chief of police for the Burlington Police Department, said several changes have been made to the organization as a result of community suggestions, including increasing the number of victims assistance positions in the police department, initiating three individual community policing neighborhood teams, selecting eight officers for enhanced training in crime scene processing and providing some officers with additional training on dealing with the public.

“(The survey) helps the community (and) it helps us,” Verdeck said. “It shows us some areas we may be deficient in; it shows us those that we’re doing well in. Anything that we can do to improve the way we deliver service to our community will only help the community.”

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