In November 2020 and May 2021, the New York City Police Department partnered with the RAND Corporation and the Mayor’s Office for Economic Opportunity to administer two rounds of community surveys. The surveys asked people in diverse communities across New York City to respond to more than 60 questions which included measures of three important elements of police-community relations: engagement, trustworthiness, and guardianship.
The NYPD deployed this survey to better understand perspectives on the police in New York City’s neighborhoods, and to help guide the Department’s efforts to strengthen relationships with the communities it serves. RAND built on the existing research by developing a detailed model of police-community relationships and then designed a survey to measure key concepts. Findings from the first survey informed the second set of questions.
RAND researchers surveyed New York City residents drawn from an existing online survey panel. Eligible respondents received either a text or an email notifying them that they were a candidate for a research study. Thousands of people were contacted, and more than 1,000 respondents participated in each round of the survey.
Results were analyzed by dividing New York City’s zip codes into groups representing four levels of violent crime, which allowed researchers to understand whether respondents experiencing different neighborhood conditions also vary in their perceptions of, engagement with, and trust in police:
Using data from both surveys, RAND identified 11 questions as the best measures of engagement, trustworthiness, and guardianship (the three key concepts describing police-community relationships). The maximum margin of error for citywide percentages, given the study design, is ±5.2%. Results on these 11 questions from the second survey (May 2021) are presented below.