Eighty Percent of Dallas Believes DPD's Effective. But the Devil's in the Details.

There are plenty of interesting council committee briefings scheduled for Monday; we'll get to them in the a.m., as usual. But this early sneak preview courtesy the Public Safety Committee: the results of Public Trust and Confidence in the Police: The 2008 Dallas Community Survey provided by the recently created W.W. Caruth Jr. Police Institute at the University of North Texas Dallas Campus. The study was funded by a $10 million foundation grant from Communities Foundation of Texas.

In short, 80 percent of the 1,362 Dallas residents surveyed from June through November of last year believe the Dallas Police Department's "doing a good or very good job in combating crime." Other highlights:

Only one in five Dallas residents believe that it is common for the police to use excessive force, use offensive language, or break the law or police rules. A larger percentage (roughly one in three) believe that it is common for the police to stop people without good reason, and a similar percentage believe that the police treat people differently according to gender, ethnic background, religion, or sexual orientation.

More than three in four residents of Dallas were very or somewhat satisfied with the quality of police services and nine in ten rated police services as good or better than other city agencies.

But that's just a tip of the 35-page report written by Robert Davis of the RAND Corporation, which breaks down every answer even further -- by patrol division, age, gender and race.

In other words: Folks who live in the North Central division have a far different perspective on crime -- and list of concerns -- than those living in the Southeast division. Same goes for the young and old; same goes for men and women.

One thing everyone shares, more or less, is a concern about having a home or car broken into, or being assaulted -- especially at night. Perhaps not surprisingly, 32 percent of those surveyed say they've been the victim of a car break-in in the past year; 13 percent said their homes had been broken into.

As you can see from the chart above, one of many found in the study, only 65 percent of those surveyed thought the DPD provided prompt response to emergency calls -- a number that drops significantly when you look specifically at the Southeast and South Central divisions. And while only 20 percent of those surveyed believe "is common for the police to use excessive force, use offensive language, or break the law or police rules," 37 percent said they "believe that it is common for the police to stop people without good reason."

Then, there are these revelations: Older Dallas residents residents believe police are more effective and more professional than younger residents, and women have more faith in the department than men (however, "Women perceive more neighborhood problems than men").

If you read one city council committee briefing all year, make it this one.

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