The results are in for the most recent satisfaction survey of Columbia residents, and public safety tops the list.
The survey results show dissatisfaction with police and concerns for safety downtown and in city parks.
Ninety percent of survey respondents said public safety was one of the most important aspects within the city. More than a third of them are not satisfied with the work the department has been doing.
Over 800 random Columbia residents sent back completed surveys. According to a significant majority of them, they’re not happy with the work of the police department.
The city manager believes it’s more of a “perception” problem.
“There’s a disconnect between, again, reality and the people that interact with the police department and the folks that get a lot of air time,” Columbia City Manager Mike Matthes said.
Meaning what people see on TV, hear on the radio or read in newspapers is different than what is actually going on.
In 2005, more than 80 percent were satisfied with the police department. But in just either years, that’s has plummeted to only 65 percent. Numbers that were startling to the analyst presenting the results. She suggested the police department could work on its communication.
Despite the numbers thrown out to top city leaders, they say the perception of the city goes only as deep as the last newscast. ABC 17 News asked Columbia Police Chief Ken Burton if he would be holding his employees accountable for the numbers.
“That’s something that’s an age old problem, as long as there’s media and police that problem exists,” Burton said.
City leaders tell us they’re going to try and start putting out more information about things they believe people should know. So they’re going to focus more on the city’s newsletter and social media sites.