A survey commissioned by the Boston Police Department suggests more public distrust in police and an increase in complaints about 911 service, excessive use of force, police visibility in minority neighborhoods, and officers’ professionalism, the Boston Globe says. The report recommends several changes, including improvements in 911 emergency services, which were rated lower than at any time since 1997. The department’s Office of Research and Evaluation also calls for improving community policing; many residents contend officers are patrolling their neighborhoods less frequently than in previous years. Respondents said the city should start more programs to help reduce youth violence; the report’s authors said police should examine policies on racial profiling and use of force.
Police Commissioner Kathleen O’Toole said the department is working to improve community outreach efforts and consults regularly with criminologists and scholars at Northeastern University’s Institute on Race and Justice to fine-tune racial-profiling and use-of-force policies. She said the 911 issue is of particular concern because of frequent complaints about response time, usually from people who call with nonemergencies during peak hours. The survey said the number of people with a favorable opinion of the police department declined from 77 percent in 2001 to 72 percent in 2003.