Tuesday Nov 22 2011
Rocklin Police ask: How are we doing?
By: Jon Brines, Placer Herald Correspondent
By Jon Brines Placer Herald Correspondent Rocklin police want to know how they’re doing. The department spent $3,600 to distribute a formal citizen survey to random residents to learn how the re-accredited department of 51 sworn officers and 25 professional staff can improve. “The police department wants people to let us know what they think about the job we are doing,” Police Chief Ron Lawrence said. “We are here to serve the public and we want to do it the very best we can.” The city contracted with a vendor to mail survey letters to random Rocklin addresses. The letters had a website access-code to submit the survey online, rather than sending them back in the mail. Lawrence said this was done in an effort to save money. “We saved $1,900 by doing this year’s (survey) electronically, spending $3,600 on this year’s survey compared to $5,500 on the survey three years ago,” Lawrence said. With the savings the department was able to send out 400 additional letters for a total of 6,000 surveys. There was one glitch. The initial letters were sent out with a 27-character long pass code that respondents had to enter on the website. “Which was confusing and discouraged people from completing the survey,” Lawrence said. At no additional charge, the vendor agreed to mail a second letter to the same random addresses with a much shorter, easer access code. Nick Willick, former Auburn Police Chief and currently a Criminal Justice instructor at Sierra College, indicated that surveys are an industry standard. “You should do them, not when there is a problem, but do it to prevent a problem,” Willick said. “Anytime you ask the community how you are doing, it is a health sign. Often times, there is a lack of transparency or a lack of communications.” Even so, Willick warns the survey is only as good as the responses received. Rocklin resident Michelle Turner did not receive a survey, but expects the results will be positive despite the excessive force complaint reported earlier this year. “I would not be surprised to hear that the results of the police department survey were in support of a larger police force,” Turner said. “Most crimes in Rocklin are relatively minor.” Rocklin with its $12 million annual budget, continues to maintain a low crime rate compared to Roseville, Folsom or Citrus Heights. Rocklin Police averaged 1,489 arrests annually. Of those, 592 were booked into the Placer County Jail, according to Lawrence. More than half of those arrested were not Rocklin residents. The results of the citizen survey are expected to be completed and tallied sometime in early 2012. “I personally welcome and encourage Rocklin residents, businesses and students to give us their input with or without completing a survey,” Lawrence said.