Police satisfaction ratings continue to grow in Prince William County

Prince William County Police officers stand outside the Western District Station near Manassas. [Mary Davidson/Potomac Local News]

Even more Prince William County residents are happy with their police department, giving it higher marks than they did two years ago.

A community satisfaction survey conducted in December showed that 96% of county residents are satisfied with the police department’s overall performance. That’s one percentage point higher than 2018.

  • 95% of residents surveyed said the police officers are courteous and helpful.
  • 97% of respondents said officers are prompt
  • 92% said officers treat residents fairly.
  • 96% of respondents said police display a positive attitude toward residents.
  • 98% of both residents and business owners say they feel safe in their respective neighborhoods.

These latest positive results are the latest in a string of community surveys, dating back to the early 1990s, commissioned by the county to get feedback about its police department.

The county once again commissioned Virginia Beach-based Issues + Answers to conduct the independent survey. The police department and county government had no involvement in the survey process.

The Department is required to conduct a survey every two years to comply with our accreditation process requirements. Potomac Local News took a deeper look into the past community surveys, which consistently give the department high marks, overall.

Seven measures gauged police services, while two assessed the safety perceptions of residents. Attached you will find the executive summary, which outlines the methodology, respondents and questions overview, the survey results, and community benchmark comparisons. Below is a list of the nine total measures and a link to the 2018 police community survey results for comparison.

  1. The County Police Department’s overall performance meets community needs?
  2. Are police officers are courteous and helpful to all community members?
  3. Are requests for police assistance receives prompt response?
  4. Does the police department treat everyone fairly regardless of race, gender, ethnic or national origin?
  5. Do police Department provides adequate information and crime prevention programs?
  6. Do police display positive attitudes and behaviors towards residents?
  7. Does Animal Control effectively protect residents and animals?
  8. Do you feel safe in your neighborhood?
  9. Do you feel safe when visiting commercial areas in the county?

This shortened survey, which contained fewer questions than previous years, netted 826 respondents. All were interviewed over a telephone for an average of 11 minutes.

The survey comes as the department finds itself under new leadership. In February, Peter Newsham was sworn in as the fifth chief to lead the department since it was created in 1974. He resigned as Metropolitan Police in Washington, D.C., to take the job and replaces former Chief Barry Barnard, who retired last July.

It also comes as the department finds itself under increased scrutiny by some county politicians on the Board of County Supervisors who successfully pushed for creating a new racial and social justice commission. It was tasked with spending its first year reviewing the county’s police department’s practices and then providing a report to Supervisors later this fall.

Last May, riots broke out at the intersection of Sudley Road and Sudley Manor Drive near Manassas, following George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis. Four police officers were injured, one with a serious head injury. Officers also nearly ran over when someone attempted to ram their car through a police barricade.

The windows of multiple businesses were shattered by rioters who threw rocks. Police used tear gas to bring order to the unlawful assembly. Five people were arrested.

The next night, rioters once smashed windows at businesses on Liberia Avenue in Manassas — about five miles from where the first riots took place — and looted a Walmart store.

So far, the commission has held two working meetings. During its first meeting, Commissioner and retired Social Security Judge London Steverson made regional headlines after reciting the Pledge of Allegiance at the end of the session. He questioned not only why the meeting didn’t open with the pledge but why commissioners were asked to instead recite a “pledge to equity.”

3 thoughts on “Police satisfaction ratings continue to grow in Prince William County

  1. The other day someone hacked into my GrubHub account and placed a pick up order for over $100 locally. I called Grubhub and the restaurant immediately. The restaurant manager called the non-emergency police number, and an officer was dispatched to my house as well. I do feel like in the past PWC officers could be condescending, take forever to arrive, and were not very sympathetic to others. The officer promptly arrived to take care of the matter, and was extremely helpful, professional, and sympathetic. I am a younger Hispanic female and was treated very respectfully. A young male arrived at the restaurant to attempt to pick up the fraudulent order, and the manager called me back to let me know. When the restaurant manager and officer told him they knew the order was a fraud, the person made a huge scene, which I heard, and threatened the company and officers accusing them of being racist and racially profiling. He yelled and screamed and threatened to sue everyone, then took off running out of the restaurant. The officer there also remained very professional, given the threats and scene made. I was very satisfied and impressed with the level of professionalism that I received. The officer also offered me information on how to prevent similar incidents. In the scheme of things, my matter was not something of extreme importance, I was reimbursed, but my issue was still treated with care. Thank you to PWC officers for all that you do!

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