Despite believing crime in Amarillo is "increasing" or remaining "stable," the majority of residents who bothered to answer the police department's Quality of Service Survey feel "somewhat safe" or "very safe."
Amarillo Police Chief Ed Drain mandated the survey, which was taken from May 11-18, as one of four performance measures established for the department beginning last year, according to an APD news release. The other performance measures looked at crime rate, traffic safety and response times.
The survey was made available to all Amarillo residents. It was available online on the department's website, with links added on FaceBook and Twitter. APD also provided paper copies that could be picked up at the station or mailed by request. However, only 445 residents responded. Last year, the first year the survey was offered, 1,134 people participated.
"He (Drain) uses it to gauge how we are doing in the community," said Sgt. Carla Burr, the department's public information officer. "I think he was disappointed that more people didn't participate."
She said the department got the word out about the survey the same way they did a year ago.
"You would think we would get more people to respond" since this is the second survey the department has done, Burr said. "It's a way for people to get their voices heard and especially since it's annoumous."
She said the department will conduct another survey next year, despite the low number of participants this year.
"It's still valuable information. You can always find something you can learn from," Burr said.
More than 45 percent of respondents this year said they believe crime in the city is "increasing," 30 percent said the crime rate was remaining "stable" and 10 percent said it was "significantly increasing." Only 10 percent said it was "decreasing," and less than 5 percent said it was "significantly decreasing."
It's the second year in a row with similar numbers. More than 50 percent of respondents of the 2017 survey believed crime in Amarillo was "increasing," 21.5 percent believed it was "significantly increasing" and 21 percent said it was "stable."
So while only a little more than 5 percent of last year's survey participants believed the city's crime rate was "decreasing" and "significantly decreasing," the numbers this year indicate people believe progress is being made to combat crime.
On the question about feeling safe within the city, more than 80 percent of people surveyed said they feel "somewhat safe," "very safe" or "neutral." The remaining residents said they feel "somewhat unsafe" or "very unsafe."
In 2017, 77.5 percent of respondents said they feel "somewhat safe," "very safe" or "neutral." People who felt "somewhat unsafe" or "very unsafe" was at 22.5 percent.
Those numbers seem to be inconsistent, but Burr said maybe not.
"I think they feel the police department is doing everything we can to keep them safe," she said. "Maybe they see it as something out of our control."
More than 75 percent of those who took this year's survey didn't take it last year. Almost half, 47 percent, of the respondents who answered the question about where they live reside in either the 79109 or 79106 zip codes. The 79109 zip code is west of Interstate 27 and south of Interstate 40; 79106 is the western half of town. More men than women, 52 percent to 48 percent, answered this year's survey; last year 53 percent of respondents were women.
More than 50 percent of responses this year came from people older than 50. The least represented age group this year was 26-30.
Overwhelmingly, 88 percent, of those who took this year's survey answered they were white. Nearly 80 percent responded they were Non-Hispanic.
In other results, "reducing domestic violence" topped the list for what people believe the APD should focus on to make the city safer. "Improving traffic safety" came in second. Also, between 60 percent and 75 percent of respondents said the police officer during their last interaction "treated me fairly," "was professional," "was helpful" and "addressed my concerns."
The survey also included questions specifically dealing with the Amarillo Emergency Communications Center, personnel at the police station, officers in the property and evidence department, and those in the detective division and service division (records).
For a complete look at the survey, go to the APD website, http://police.amarillo.gov and then, select “REPORTS” from the pull-down menu bar.