Prince William residents are pleased with the performance of county’s police department, but African American, Hispanic and mixed-ethnicity residents expressed higher levels of dissatisfaction with police than other groups, according to the results of a survey published this week.
Overall, 78% of respondents said they were very satisfied that the police department is meeting the community’s needs – up 11% from the last community survey conducted by the county in 2018 – and 81% of respondents said police display positive attitudes and behaviors toward residents.
But according to the authors of the survey report, “The average satisfaction scores noted for African American, Hispanic, or mixed ethnicity residents fell below the overall average scores for the county,” while white residents “drove positive perceptions of all police service aspects.”
The authors noted a “stark contrast” between responses about the whether the police department treats all residents fairly regardless of race, gender, ethnic or national origin.
The survey found that 84% of white respondents said they were “very satisfied” that the police department treats everyone fairly compared to 71% of Hispanic respondents, 72% of mixed-ethnicity respondents and 54% of African American respondents.
“Mirroring the already established pattern, Caucasian residents are most likely to be very satisfied that the police department treats everyone fairly,” the authors wrote. “African American and Hispanic residents are most apt to express dissatisfaction with the police on the topic of fair treatment.”
Still, the 2020 survey marked a 5% improvement in the overall level of satisfaction with police treating everyone fairly over the 2018 survey.
The survey was conducted via telephone by the Virginia Beach-based research firm Issues & Answers Network. Responses were divided by age, ethnicity and five geographic regions: Battlefield, Broad Run, Belmont/Potomac, Hoadly, Old Bridge, Dale City and Forest Park.
County residents above the age of 55 were most likely to say they were very satisfied with the police department, while average satisfaction scores for the youngest residents – those under 34 – fell below the overall countywide scores.
County residents between the ages of 18 and 34 were three times more likely to say they are unsatisfied with police than with those 35 and older.
Western Prince William residents give police higher ratings
Those living in the Western side of the county in the Gainesville and Brentsville districts, which the survey dubbed the “Battlefield” area, were most satisfied with the police department in nearly all topic areas.
People living on the eastern side of the county in the Dumfries and Quantico areas, dubbed the “Forest Park” area, gave the police department the lowest marks of any of the county’s seven regions.
“Geographically speaking, Battlefield residents expressed the highest satisfaction in more of the tested metrics than the other regions. Conversely, Forest Park is the area most inclined toward lower ratings to the police department,” the authors wrote.
The survey was conducted by telephone with 826 county residents. Of those, 209 were reached at a landline telephone and 613 were reached at a cell phone.
Reach Daniel Berti at email@example.com