This document provides a report on the landscape of methods for measuring community perceptions regarding law enforcement and their own personal safety, with a goal of helping law enforcement agencies to improve or update their policies, practices, and performance, and to give community members the opportunity to express their opinions and identify issues of concern.
This landscape report focuses on innovations for the three approaches to measuring community perceptions: general population surveys, post-contact surveys, and leveraging data from existing sources. The report’s objectives are to: provide foundational principles on survey methodology; highlight the three approaches that can be used to measure community perceptions; and describe novel modes for carrying out the various approaches. The document is organized into six main chapters plus appendices with research methodology, glossary, and product profiles. The six chapters are: Introduction to Measuring Community Perceptions; Introduction to Surveys; Approach 1—General Population Surveys; Approach 2—Post-contact Surveys; Approach 3—Leveraging of Data from Existing Sources; and Best Practices and Lessons Learned from Case Studies. Key findings include: measuring community sentiment or perceptions reflects an interest in understanding how community members perceive law enforcement and their own personal safety; traditional survey modes have known limitations, and several products and tools have been identified that claim to quickly and efficiently collect community perceptions measures; the currently available evidence on the utility of those new products is limited, and future research is needed to evaluate emerging products; community perceptions can be measured using the three approaches featured in this document; and each of the different approaches have strengths and limitations.
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