Toledoans have a significantly higher approval rating of their city’s police department compared to the national average, according to results of a Community Relations Survey.
The more than 30 question survey asked community members how police were doing, their attitudes toward police, and their opinion about crime and safety. It’s the first time the department conducted such an in-depth survey, officials said.
“We need to know as a police department what’s important to the citizens of the city. We work for them. We need to know what’s important to them,” Toledo Police Chief George Kral said during a press conference Thursday at the Frederick Douglass Community Center, where highlights of the 28-page report were shared.
Of the more than 800 respondents to the survey, 77 percent had a favorable opinion of the police department.
"In my opinion, that’s absolutely fantastic," said Chief Kral.
The national average is roughly 50 to 55 percent, said University of Toledo professor Dr. Kasey Tucker-Gail, who helped develop the survey along with Dr. David Lilley and Dr. Megan Stewart, also both of the University of Toledo, in addition to the Chief’s Advisory Board, and Holly Matthews of the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council.
“I think that speaks volumes to the amount of work the Chief of Police and the police department as a whole are doing,” she said.
The study surveyed Toledoans from across the city from a variety of ethnic backgrounds.
Data was collected from December to May and citizens completed the survey online or in person at Chief's Town Hall Meetings.
"It's rare for a chief of police to be engaged in evidence-based research about his community, and I think that should be highlighted because that's something he (Chief Kral) does very well," Dr. Tucker-Gail.
Thefts and burglaries were identified as a top concern for survey respondents. The respondents were also asked their concerns about safety, gang activity, drugs, and guns.
Based on the results, respondents indicated following thefts and burglaries, they were most concerned about drugs, safety, guns, and then gang activity, according to the results.
“People mostly care about what happens to them or next door to them, not necessarily what they can’t see,” said Dr. Tucker-Gail. “While our city trends may be up in other areas, what’s important to individuals in their neighbor is their property.”
Less than 7 percent of respondents said they were afraid or feared when they saw a police officer, the police chief said of the survey.
“The last emotion people should feel when they see a police car driving down the street is fear,” said Chief Kral. “You should feel safety, you should feel secure. Fear shouldn’t be in your head.”
Chief Kral said he was happy the number was low, particularly with negative police-community relations in other areas of the country.
Toledo police should utilize multiple resources of communication to reach the community with information, continue to engage in evidence-based policing efforts, and maintain strategies of procedural justice, the survey recommended.
The data will help the department with policy decisions, Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson said.
“This particular survey is just the beginning. It’s going to be a benchmark for us, for us to only improve,” Mayor Hicks-Hudson said.
The full report is available on the police department's website, and data will continue to be collected and analyzed.
“We need to continue to monitor it so we can recommend adjustments to the police department and the mayor’s office as we move to policy adjustment,” Dr. Tucker-Gail said.
The next town hall meeting will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Sept. 18 at Ottawa River School, 4747 290th St.
Guidelines: Please keep your comments smart and civil. Don't attack other readers personally, and keep your language decent. Comments that violate these standards, or our privacy statement or visitor's agreement, are subject to being removed and commenters are subject to being banned. To post comments, you must be a registered user on toledoblade.com. To find out more, please visit the FAQ.