Citizens conduct surveys
Civilians are sometimes better than police for doing certain police department tasks. For example, it's preferable for a volunteer to query people about their interactions with police officers, said Fargo Police Chief Chris Magnus. For the past c...
Civilians are sometimes better than police for doing certain police department tasks.
For example, it's preferable for a volunteer to query people about their interactions with police officers, said Fargo Police Chief Chris Magnus.
For the past couple of months, four citizen volunteers have called people to ask how they felt police handled individual situations, Magnus said.
One such survey, the first ever done by the Fargo Police Department, has been completed and posted on the department's Web site, www.fargopolice.com .
In that survey, volunteers asked 25 victims of residential burglaries questions such as whether police arrived on scene quickly, whether they conducted a thorough investigation and whether they were patient and attentive.
While the survey was pretty positive overall, it showed police need to work on following up with victims of crimes, Magnus said.
Of those surveyed, 84 percent said no one told them the final status of their case.
"Sometimes we're connecting the dots but not sharing the information with the victims," Magnus said. "It's clear people want some degree of finality."
Mary Beth Puetz, who is one of the four volunteers involved in the surveys, said she was surprised by how positive people were that she called.
"I expected they'd be more negative," she said.
Ninety-six percent of respondents said the officer they dealt with was polite. Eighty-eight percent said the officer was business-like, and 92 percent said the officer was patient.
Of all respondents, 80 percent said they were satisfied or very satisfied with the way the Police Department responded to their burglary complaint.
Surveys of traffic violators and victims of car break-ins will be completed and posted on the Police Department's Web site in the near future, Magnus said.
Volunteers will continue to conduct quarterly surveys, as well as fill other, previously non-existent roles within the department, he said.
Hopefully the volunteers will enable the department to expand the hours of operation at the downtown station's front desk, Magnus said.
The department also hopes to eventually create a fully functional substation on the west side of Fargo, he said.
The volunteers "have been a huge asset for us," he said.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Lisa Schneider at (701) 241-5529