Survey of Johnstown Police Dept. shows room for some improvement

JOHNSTOWN — A survey of the Johnstown Police Department by Fulton-Montgomery Community College students found less than half the respondents were “satisfied” with the presence of the department in their community.

City police Chief David Gilbo announced in March that the Johnstown Police Department was partnering with FMCC this spring to conduct an 18-question “community survey” on public safety and law enforcement.

Results of the survey — involving about 120 residential respondents and some businesses — were released publicly Monday by Gilbo.

“We were appreciative for FMCC,” Gilbo said Friday. “It’s the first time they’ve done this.”

The chief said the results showed “some expected” responses and others pointed to some “issues” local police have to address, perhaps involving younger officers. City police and FMCC’s Criminal Justice Program joined forces to learn more about city policing and whether it can be strengthened.

“People don’t understand the term of community policing,” Gilbo said the survey determined.

Only 27.5 percent of those surveyed said they were satisfied with the department’s community policing.

The survey was for both residents and businesses. The residential results indicated that 43.8 percent, or 53 residential respondents, said they were “satisfied” with the presence of Johnstown police in the community. A total of 26.4 percent, or 32 residents, were “very satisfied.” A total of 17 percent were neutral and 17 percent were dissatisfied, and 3 percent not sure.

When it came to professionalism of city officers, 45 percent were satisfied, 20 percent were very satisfied, and 12.6 percent were dissatisfied.

Similar numbers came in with respect to competency of officers: 45 percent satisfied, 19 percent very satisfied, and 8 percent dissatisfied.

The numbers decreased a bit when it came to traffic enforcement in the city, with 41.6 percent of respondents satisfied. A total of 21.6 percent were very satisfied in that category, and 13.3 percent were dissatisfied.

Only 34 percent of respondents felt city police are issuing a reasonable amount of traffic violation tickets, with another 30 percent not sure.

The survey found only 11 percent were dissatisfied with response time by officers. A total of 30.5 percent felt safe walking alone in their neighborhood, especially at night, and 27.1 felt very safe, with only 17 percent felt not safe . A total of 38.3 percent felt very safe at home.

Figures jump dramatically higher when it comes to city residents believing their house is safe when it’s not occupied — 61.6 percent saying yes.

Most of the respondents — 85 percent — said they had not been a victim of crime in the city the past four years.

Only 27 percent of respondents feel the police department “makes it easy” for the community to provide feedback. But 66.6 percent of those surveyed feel Johnstown police are “approachable.”

Most of the ages of the respondents were young to high middle age — 18 to 54.

A total of 58 percent of the respondents were female, with 39 percent male and 3 percent having no answer.

Numbers of those taking part in the business part of the survey were much smaller and not quantified by percentages. Generally, most of the businesses were satisfied with response time, although most didn’t want more police involvement in their establishment. Most were satisfied with the department’s procedures.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at manich@leaderherald.com.

COMMENTS