• Coming soon to a website near you: Police Services Survey

    by Marge Ann Jameson

    In the seemingly endless search for the most efficient, yet most comprehensive, method of providing safety for the citizens of Pacific Grove, staff and the City Council have conducted studies, both internally and by outside sources, for both police and fire services.

    Currently sharing police services, the Council is still in search of the best plan for the City, and has decided to conduct a survey of what the citizens want as a part of the study.

    Staff has also conducted negotiations with the two police employee associations and discussions with neighboring cities regarding shared police services. A community survey will add a valuable source of additional information to assist in making future decisions by delineating the citizens’ wishes for standalone vs. shared vs. hybrid systems, and also to outline the trade-offs the community is willing to make to achieve the preferred option.

    The staff report presented at the Wed., Sept. 4 City Council meeting read“…residents, the owners of second homes, business owners (and, by extension, their employees) have a stake in the outcome and should have the opportunity to provide input. It is crucial that, no matter what Council decisions result, every adult know that he or she had the opportunity to provide input that would be listened to and considered. As a result, we are proposing surveying all adult members of the community.”

    That would mean some 10,000 answers, the logistics of which the City says it cannot afford financially to obtain in person or over the phone. The solution is a self-administered survey. And an Internet-based survey will be the primary source, backed up by paper surveys for those who are not Internet-savvy or choose not to go online in order to participate. A service such as Survey Monkey will likely be used.

    “Many people are survey-fatigued. In order to ensure a willingness to participate, the survey needs to be perceived as of high import, needs to be tightly focused, and must be relatively short. It should consist of only some basic demographic distinguishers, a short set of closed-ended questions, and the opportunity for respondents to provide open-ended comments, feedback, and suggestions,” according to the staff report.

    Newly sworn Sergeant Carl Lafada of the Pacific Grove Police Department has a doctorate degree which included an emphasis on social science research. He will be asked to design and administer the survey, along with members of some City advisory board and the Council itself. Still, staff suggested that an outside firm should be asked to verify decisions, administer the actual survey, collect the data, and provide initial data analysis.

    Staff estimates total costs at under $15,000.

    The Council also held a discussion of the results of a study by Matrix, Inc., comparing various methods of providing fire service – standalone, a hybrid of paid and volunteer, regional, a joint powers authority shared with other jurisdictions, Cal-Fire and the City of Monterey (the current method). A lengthy discussion resulted in the decision that there will was not enough information provided to facilitate a decision, and that since the decision did not need to be made for another few months, the questions would be referred back and the proposals of stand-alone, hybrid, Monterey and Cal-Fire be compared at a future City Council meeting.

    posted to Cedar Street Times on September 5, 2013

    Topics: Front PG News, Marge Ann Jameson

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