Distributed May 23, 2001
For Immediate Release
News Service Contact: Mark Nickel



Public opinion survey

Public gives R.I. State Police high marks on professionalism and service
A survey of 372 people who received a traffic citation, filed an accident report or contacted the State Police to report an incident or offense during calendar 2000 finds high public ratings of the professionalism, courtesy, fairness and service delivery of the Rhode Island State Police. The survey was conducted May 5-9, 2001, by researchers at Brown University.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Eighty-three percent of persons who have dealt with the Rhode Island State Police say the service delivered has been excellent or good, according to a new public opinion survey by researchers at Brown University. There were few differences in evaluations based on sex or race but some differences based on age.

The survey was conducted May 5-9, 2001, at Brown University by Darrell M. West, director of the Taubman Center for Public Policy and the John Hazen White Sr. Public Opinion Laboratory. It was based on interviews with a random sample of 372 people who in calendar year 2000 received a traffic citation, filed an accident report or contacted the State Police to report an incident or offense. Overall, the poll had a margin of error of about plus or minus 5 percentage points. It was commissioned by the State Police to assess public evaluations of the agency.

Researchers looked at a variety of performance measures for the State Police. The highest evaluations came in regard to professional demeanor, where 92 percent felt the officer(s) they dealt with were very professional or professional. Only 5 percent believed an officer was unprofessional and 3 percent offered no opinion.

Eighty-eight percent said the officer they dealt with was courteous, while 9 percent said the officer was not courteous, and 3 percent had no opinion. Eighty-seven percent felt the officer was knowledgeable (41 percent said very knowledgeable and 46 percent said knowledgeable) while 5 percent said the officer was not knowledgeable and 8 percent gave no opinion.

Of those who filed an accident or incident report, 87 percent were satisfied with the amount of time it took the officer to respond, and 9 percent were not satisfied. Eighty-six percent believed the officer was clear in explaining the situation, 86 percent felt they were treated fairly, and 83 percent gave the State Police an excellent or good rating overall. Nine percent claimed the overall service was only fair, six percent felt it was poor, and 2 percent did not know or gave no answer.

There were no significant gender differences in assessments of the State Police. For example, in overall service rating, 84 percent of men and women gave officers an excellent or good rating. The category with the largest difference based on gender was clarity. Ninety percent of women, compared to 84 percent of men, indicated officers gave them clear explanations of what was happening.

There were no significant racial differences in assessments of the State Police. In overall service rating, 85 percent of whites gave officers an excellent or good rating, compared to 79 percent of minorities. There was some difference in intensity of sentiment on overall service ratings. Whites were more likely to give excellent (50 percent) than good (35 percent) ratings, while minorities were more likely to give good (49 percent) than excellent (30 percent) assessments. Eight percent of whites and 16 percent of minorities rated the State Police as only fair, and 6 percent of whites and 5 percent of minorities rated the State Police as poor.

Overall, older people gave the State Police higher marks than younger people. While 96 percent of those 65 years and older rated officers excellent or good, only 67 percent of those 18 to 24 years old gave that rating. Younger respondents were less likely to say their treatment was fair (79 percent) than senior citizens (96 percent). Those aged 18 to 24 were less likely to say officers were courteous (79 percent) compared to those 65 years and older (96 percent).

There were few significant differences in assessments of the State Police based on whether the person lived inside or outside of Rhode Island. Eighty-three percent of those living in Rhode Island give officers an excellent or good rating, compared to 85 percent of those living outside the state. Non-Rhode Island residents, however, were more satisfied with response time. Ninety-six percent of those indicated they were satisfied with the amount of time it took the State Police to respond, compared to 86 percent of those living within the state.

There was some difference in overall service ranking based on barracks. The most highly rated barracks was Portsmouth (88 percent), followed by Hope Valley (86 percent), Headquarters and Wickford (tied at 85 percent), Chepachet (79 percent) and Lincoln Woods (78 percent). In terms of fairness, the barracks ranking included Portsmouth and Wickford (tied at 92 percent), Lincoln Woods (88 percent), Headquarters (84 percent), Chepachet (83 percent) and Hope Valley (80 percent).

There were some differences in State Police assessments based on whether the contact was a traffic citation, accident report, or incident report. Overall service ratings were higher for accident and incident reports (84 percent each) compared to traffic citations (77 percent). And individuals receiving traffic citations were the least likely to think they had been treated fairly (77 percent) compared to those involved with accident reports (88 percent) and incident reports (85 percent).

In order to give respondents a chance to make suggestions, researchers asked what the State Police could do to improve highway safety. The most common suggestions included greater visibility, putting more patrol officers on the road, watching for speeders, controlling road rage by drivers and increasing number of officers. A number of people did not answer the question or felt the State Police already was doing a lot to improve safety.

For more information, contact Darrell M. West at (401) 863-1163. The full report is available online at www.InsidePolitics.org.

Survey Questions and Responses

Gender of respondent: 58% male, 38% female, 4% no answer

In your dealings with the Rhode Island State Police this past year, were you treated courteously by the officer(s) you dealt with? 88% yes, 9% no, 3% don’t know or no answer

Was the trooper’s demeanor at the time: 49% very professional, 43% professional, 5% unprofessional, 3% don’t know or no answer

If you called to file an offense report or were involved in an accident, were you satisfied with the amount of time it took to respond? 87% yes, 9% no, 4% don’t know or no answer

Would you say the trooper you dealt with was: 41% very knowledgeable, 46% knowledgeable, 5% not very knowledgeable, 8% don’t know or no answer

Did you receive a clear explanation about what was happening? 86% yes, 11% no, 3% don’t know or no answer

Did you feel you were treated fairly? 86% yes, 11% no, 3% don’t know or no answer

How would you rate the overall service you received? 47% excellent, 36% good, 9% only fair, 6% poor, 2% don’t know or no answer

What can the Rhode Island State Police do to improve the safety on our highways? (open-ended responses)

Which of the following age group are you in? 16% 18-24, 21% 25-34, 27% 35-44, 18% 45-54, 8% 55-64, 7% 65 or older, 3% no answer

Are you: 82% white, 4% African-American, 4% Hispanic, 2% Asian-American, 2% Native American, 3% other, 3% don’t know or no answer

Code from top of call sheet whether person: 13% received traffic citation, 51% filed accident report, 34% filed offense report, 2% don’t know

Code from top of call sheet whether state police barracks was: 19% SPC State Police Chepachet, 21% SPHV State Police Hope Valley, 15% SPLW State Police Lincoln Woods, 16% SPP State Police Portsmouth, 19% SPW State Police Wickford, 9% SPHQ State Police Headquarters, 1% don’t know

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