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Government, Politics & Issues

Ferguson Monitoring Team Wants Residents To Assess Police In Survey

Demonstrators kneel in front of police officers at a protest in Ferguson on May 31, 2020.
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio
Demonstrators kneel in front of police officers at a protest in Ferguson on May 31. The Ferguson Monitoring Team wants residents to participate in a community survey that aims to assess police and community relations.

A court-appointed monitor overseeing Ferguson’s agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice is asking residents to participate in a survey on police-community relations.

The Ferguson Monitoring Team and the National Police Foundation are conducting the Ferguson Community Survey. It is a requirement of the 2016 consent decree to settle a civil rights lawsuit between the city of Ferguson and the U.S. Department of Justice.

With the survey, Ferguson residents can inform the city of Ferguson and its police department about police and court practices to better serve the community, said Courtney Caruso, deputy to the lead monitor of the Ferguson Monitoring Team.

“The survey is one of the best ways for the monitoring team and therefore the court to understand how the community is feeling about the police department, about their interactions with police officers and about their own safety in their community,” Caruso said.

Survey respondents 18 and older will be able to rate the performance of officers, their level of confidence in the police department, their willingness to work with police and their views toward law enforcement and compliance with the law.

Half of the survey asks respondents their perceptions of the police department. The second half asks about their interactions with officers. Some questions seek yes or no answers and others ask for fill-in responses. The survey should take about 15 minutes to complete.

When the monitoring team first implemented the survey last year, only 125 residents responded. Most of last year’s participants were from the city’s first and second wards, and more than 75% identified as white people, which Caruso said did not reflect the city’s demographics.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 67.6% of Ferguson’s residents are African Americans, 25% are white people, 1.6% are Hispanics and 1.6% American Indians/Asians.

“When you only have a pretty small number of total of responses, it's difficult to judge all communities,” Caruso said. “You can't extrapolate a whole community from that.”

This year, the team is looking for more respondents from south Ferguson since the area was underrepresented in last year's survey, said Leigh Anderson, who leads community engagement for the monitoring team.

The survey will be available online by the end of the year. Digital postcards will be directly mailed to over 2,000 residents, and postcards with an online code will be available at organizations and governmental agencies throughout Ferguson.

Anderson said that as the city works through the consent decree, the team wants to make sure policy changes are improving community and police interactions.

“We want to know how it's affecting or not affecting the community,” Anderson said. “And we want to be able to assess that community sentiment while we better understand the police department.”

Follow Andrea on Twitter: @drebjournalist

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