Non-violent offenders and people stopped on traffic offenses will now have a chance to rate their encounter with Lake Zurich Police officers through the Illinois Police-Community Interaction Survey (IL-PCIS) program, administered by the University of Illinois at Chicago.
The program started on Oct. 15 and is expected to run for six to nine months, according to Lake Zurich Commander David Bradstreet.
Bradstreet explained that the Lake Zurich police will send records of most arrests to an independent service, which will send a survey to the person involved. The person can respond either online or on the telephone.
“It’s just a matter of how many respond and want to be a part of it,” he said. He stressed that the police department will never see the individual surveys, just the results. The first batch of results is expected in about three months.
Police encounters that involve traffic crashes and stops, as well as most non-violent crimes, will be part of survey. However, encounters that result from domestic violence or sexual assault or involve juveniles will not be surveyed.
Bradstreet said the Illinois Chiefs of Police asked for volunteers and Lake Zurich opted to be a part of the study.
"We are very excited to have the opportunity to participate in this project," said Lake Zurich Police Chief Patrick Finlon in a news release. "Knowing how the public perceives their experiences with our officers is invaluable to having a better understanding of what we do well and what we need to improve."
The goal of the IL-PCIS, administered through UIC's Center for Research in Law and Justice, is to collect data that will help establish new benchmarks for excellence in policing and thus help to improve the quality of police services delivered to the community, according to the news release.
The Lake Zurich Police Department is one of about two dozen Illinois communities to participate in this innovative statewide program. Based on a pilot program that is part of the National Police Research Platform administered by UIC researchers, participating departments will be able to use the survey data to monitor their performance and improve their training programs.
According to Chief Finlon no one asked to participate in the survey should fear that the information could be used in other ways. None of the survey information will be collected by the Lake Zurich Police Department since all survey responses will be managed by the UIC researchers. The results provided to the department will not include any information identifying the individual responding to the survey or the officer involved in the contact.
"This effort is not about individual officers or specific community members," Chief Finlon said. "It is about gaining a broader understanding of what is happening on the streets so we can create training programs and approaches that will help us improve the services we provide the community."