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Working through National Citizen Survey for Watauga part 6

January 22, 2012

Public Safety

“Safety from violent or property crimes creates the cornerstone of an attractive community.  No one wants to live in fear of crime, fire or natural hazards, and communities in which residents feel protected or unthreatened are communities that are more likely to show growth in population, commerce and property value.

Residents were asked to rate their feelings of safety from violent crimes, property crimes, fire and environmental dangers and to evaluate the local agencies whose main charge is to provide protection from these dangers.”

Thank God that this is more than half-way over.  Most of the back of the document is further explanation and other meaningless mumbo-jumbo.  That’s not true.  I’ll mention some really interesting goodies from that section too, though thankfully there are less sections that deserve comment.

Survey respondents answer “felt” questions like how safe do you feel in your neighborhood at night, or how safe do you feel in your neighborhood during the day.  “Feel” questions have no real boundaries and are really meaningless questions.

As a Marine, I participated in an exercise in Norway.  I slept in a bunker complex burrowed within a mountainside.  I was surrounded by what I consider some of the greatest fighting troops in the world.  How safe did I feel?  Not completely.  I could have been killed by fire, by an accident, by suffocation, by a fellow Marine on purpose or suffered some other form of injury.  There will never be 100% “feelings” of security.  Security is VERY expensive to deliver, even the “feeling”.

The document then comes out with this shocking and amazing revelation that makes the whole survey worth it’s weight in gold:  “Daytime sense of safety was better than nighttime safety”.  I’m SO glad the city paid for a survey to let us know that incredible piece of data.  (Just in case you didn’t get it, that was sarcasm.  I apologize to those of you that don’t need this clarification, but there will be someone that does.)

This survey is built from the ground up to be able to justify confiscating more wealth from producers and redistributing it to the city for the benefit of whiners and complainers.  As long as feelings are going to be used as the metric by which these decisions are going to be made, there will always be room for improvement.

The only measure I cared about in this section was the victim of crime question.  15% indicated that they had been a victim of crime.  Of those, 14% said they did not report it to the police.  Since we don’t know the nature of these crimes, there are a large number of questions that could be asked about this.  Why didn’t they report it?  A drug dealer had his drugs stolen and didn’t want the police’s help in getting them back?  A resident that has dealt with the PD and knew it would be a complete waste of time to even engage them?  These questions might have been valuable to get the answers to, but again, the point of the survey isn’t to clarify, it’s to obfuscate and show that more money could be spent in any of these places.

As I looked at the section for ratings of Public Safety Services, I couldn’t help but wonder how these people had reached the determination that they did.  It’s impossible to have any confidence in the reality expressed in these numbers without knowing more about the participants.  It looks like 60% said they haven’t had any contact with the PD, and 86% said they hadn’t had any contact with the Fire Department.  Really?  How could their opinions be informed then?

If you’re still reading these and still think there might be some value to this survey, I hope this question will finish you off.

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