By Evan Casey
New data from the Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission showed that most Milwaukee residents are satisfied with the Milwaukee Police Department. This data, released at the Fire and Police Commission meeting last week, showed that there were no significant changes in satisfaction with the Police Department since 2014, according to a survey prepared by multiple independent researchers.
However, the survey did find that 40% of black residents are “not very” satisfied with the police, compared to 28% of other nonwhite residents. The survey also found that 52% of Milwaukee citizens perceive the city as “not safe,” compared to only 39% of citizens in 2014.
Crime numbers were also analyzed in the survey, as it said, “of those reporting recent victimization in 2017, 52% say they have experienced more than one crime.” This is up from only 39% of citizens in 2014.
David Gelting, the commission’s research and policy analyst, presented the key findings at the meeting.
“People who are upset need to be heard,” said Gelting. “This survey helps us get to people who usually aren’t heard.”
This survey was a replicate of a 2014 survey that was done after Mayor Tom Barrett and the common council looked for a concrete way to measure public opinion revolving the department.
The survey was conducted by Neighborhood Analytics and the St. Norbert College Strategic Research Institute. It included 1,338 interviews that took place from July 5, 2017 to Oct. 2 2017. The survey was sent to the research committee upon completion. Milwaukee Fire and Police Commissioner Steven DeVougas said that the board will study the findings to see if there are any possible policy changes that will occur because of the findings.
“There weren’t really a lot of surprises,” said DeVougas.
Interim Police Chief Alfonso Morales said that public trust in the Milwaukee Police Department could have something to do with how the city’s leaders act.
“I think that you lose public trust when we as city leaders are bad mouthing each other,” said Morales. “It can lead others to think that there’s big problems in the city.”
Gelting said that the survey will be conducted every 1-2 years, pending the budgetary allotment.
“These types of surveys are valuable in that they survey the whole city equally,” Gelting said.