GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) — Most people scroll past ads on Instagram or Facebook, but the Greensboro Police Department is using them to get your input on policing in the community.
“We never want to go into a community and tell them what they need,” said Greensboro Police Department Interim Chief Teresa Biffle. “They know what they need. We just want to facilitate getting the resources there that would help them.”
Letting the department know what you need could take as little as 90 seconds.
At 9 a.m. on Wednesday, the department rolled out the Blockwise survey. Blockwise is one service provided through the company Zencity.
Greensboro is the first department in the state to launch the program and one of the first in the south.
“Blockwise is a tool specifically for public safety, so it really digs into making sure we are resonating with our public,” said Jenny Caviness, director of community engagement.
The survey is pushed out through social media.
“Residents of Greensboro are randomly chosen based on demographics and geographic diversity of the city, and we’re aiming to get a representative sample of 600 respondents every quarter,” said Michael Simon, vice president of partnerships with Zencity.
You could see the survey pop up between Instagram stories, on your Facebook feed or even on the FOX8 website.
Leaders in the police department feel this technology will give them a better sample of the community input and not just the loudest voices in the room.
“The classic community meeting with 12 people who happened to have time after work to show up at the church basement are the only ones who have their voices heard,” Simon said. “We’re now going to hear from a representative sample of thousands of residents of Greensboro over the course of a year.”
The first few questions ask you to rank how you feel about safety and trust in the department on a scale from one to ten.
“That information is valuable so our Greensboro Police Department can react to you, so we can execute and change plans,” said Greensboro City Councilmember Hugh Holston. “If we need to address a hotspot, we can address a hotspot.”
The survey results are broken down into geographical locations.
Officers can look at the data and know exactly where to add heavier enforcement or where they could use more engagement with the community.
“It’s much better when we can say, ‘hey, we surveyed 2,000 people, and 80% of folks are happy with what we can do.’ That’s a hard number. That’s a statistic, and I can feel better about what we’re doing out here,” Assistant Chief John Thompson said.
The last question asks for your suggestions on how to improve things in your neighborhood.
You can tell the city if there’s an issue with parking or trash or something you aren’t sure who to call or where you should turn for help.
“The neat thing about that is that those comments will automatically generate a threat that a captain that’s over a specific geographical area can see and then work to address those concerns almost real-time,” Thompson said.
You can also tell the department if you see an officer doing a good job.
“Today a lot of individuals are not happy with the police department…have the loudest voice. There is a false sense I think of distrust and a lack of support for the police department,” Thompson said.
“My hope is that this is a tool the officers can look at and say…’we’re doing a good job. There’s a good score over here, and we’re doing good,'” Caviness said.
In an era of staffing shortages, law enforcement agencies across the country are using this tool as a way to boost morale.
“The officers deserve to see some of the positives and then also the areas where more work can be done, and that’s exciting,” Caviness said.
The Greensboro Police Department is putting together a web page so you can track the results.
“This with the dashboard and the feedback we get as a department. It’s going to be great…when the department is great, the community is great. That rolls into the community, and the community can see the great things,” Biffle said.
The survey is live.
A reminder: this is not something you can search and fill out. You will be randomly selected.
The survey is completely anonymous.