Vinton Police ask for public participation in community survey

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The Vinton Police Department was recently awarded a grant from the Department of Criminal Justice that will enable the department to purchase a Mobile Services Community Unit for community outreach activities.

Chief Tom Foster said the purpose of the mobile unit is “to promote outreach and education, community engagement, and crime prevention,” with a continuing emphasis on community policing.

One stipulation for receiving the grant is that the department must conduct a community survey to assess citizen satisfaction with Vinton law enforcement, “The Community Survey on Public Safety and Law Enforcement.”

The survey has been created on Survey Monkey and “went live” on March 29. Citizens are asked to access and complete the brief survey (it takes approximately five minutes) electronically via the Town of Vinton or Vinton Police Department websites at www.vintonva.gov or www.vintonpolice.com/.

Current plans are for the survey to be conducted now at the beginning of the grant period to collect baseline data and again at the end of the grant period once the Mobile Unit has been in use throughout the community. Chief Foster and his department hope the information will indicate what is important to the citizens of the town, not just what is indicated by current call data.

Foster says he wants to assess the “level of customer satisfaction with the police department” and “what is most important to the citizens” in relation to local law enforcement.

“Our focus needs to match the citizens’ focus and interests,” said Foster.

The anonymous survey will assess community involvement with the police department, safety, the perception of procedural justice, the performance of the department, and the level of contact and satisfaction with the Vinton police.

One question on the survey asks citizens to identify the three issues they consider to be the greatest problems within the community. Others ask about the level of satisfaction citizens have with interactions they may have had with the department in the past year.

Notifications that the survey is being conducted and that citizen participation is being sought will be made through social and print media and on town utility bills.

The survey was developed by the United States Department of Justice and the Office of Community-Oriented Policing Services with support from ICF International and other law enforcement experts.

The Mobile Unit is on order and will be delivered shortly. The plan is to use it for outreach at the town’s special events and at staged events in multi-family complex events. The unit will include countertops, a gas grill, and lighting. The police plan to take along bike helmets for children and to assist children with bicycle repairs with tools they will carry in the unit.