The Billerica Police Department just conducted a Community-Wide Survey on Local Policing in order to gauge various metrics related to community sentiment as to how well we are doing ranging from engagement and partnership to perceptions of safety and security. We also sought to gauge the level of community trust in its police while also determining where residents would like to see more police resources allocated in the future.
The survey was sent out to residents primarily through Nextdoor and Twitter, where we requested only town residents and businesses to participate. Currently there are 8,104 verified households in Billerica using Nextdoor, which is an internet-based information sharing tool used to bring neighbors and neighborhoods together for positive exchanges. Over the 14-day period the survey was active, we received 342 completed responses, which is a response rate of just over 4%.
A review of the responses indicate that our police department is doing very well in the area of community trust and engagement, with over 85% of respondents reporting that the department does develop relationships with community members, while also showing strong efforts towards communication and problem solving. In terms of Community Policing, defined in the survey whereby the police work with the community to address the root causes of crime through a wide range of
activities, approximately 80% of the survey respondents felt the police utilized community policing
principals either “somewhat” or “to a great extent”.
When looking towards programs that are offered through the Billerica Police Department, respondents gauged their relative importance in the following averages, where 10 was “very important” to 1 being “not important at all”. The highest responses on these programs were as follows:
|Behavioral Health Assistance mental health collaborative||8.7|
|Elder Affairs (working with Council on Aging on neglect/abuse)||8.6|
|Domestic Violence Advocates||8.5|
|School Resource Officer, specially trained to work in public school||8.37|
|Juvenile Diversion Programs for first time offenders||8.34|
|Body Worn Cameras and in-car video recording||7.78|
|Police Athletic/Activities League (PAL)||7.58|
|Police Bicycle Patrol||7.24|
|Citizen Police Academy (familiarization training)||6.29|
One area of interest from the survey was a desire by residents to engage in a neighborhood citizen crime watch group. Over 61% of respondents expressed a desire to participate in a “crime watch group”. A great way for residents to organize a Neighborhood Crime Watch group is through Nextdoor. Currently Nextdoor in Billerica has 40 distinct geographically contiguous neighborhoods consisting of 11,711 verified resident members. Resident representatives from each of the 40 verified neighborhoods are able to create a group for that neighborhood for the purpose of sharing crime and safety information. Relevant information from the groups could later be shared at the groups’ discretion with the Billerica Police, who would then assign officers who covers that groups’ geographic sector across three separate patrol shifts over a 24-hour period. Working directly with the residents in that group will allow officers and residents to work together to identify solutions to the issues at hand and, later, evaluate their effectiveness.
We will be conducting similar surveys in the future in an effort to evaluate the effectiveness of our programs and the wants and needs of the community. Please use out department website to see the various services we offer the community as well as to provide direct input on how we can better improve our services.
Thank you again for all those who participated in the Community-Wide Survey on Local Policing.
Chief Roy W Frost
Complete survey results are available here – Survey Results