May 4, 2018
In October of 2017, the Portsmouth Police Department began meeting with the University of New Hampshire’s Survey Center to conduct a survey of Portsmouth residents. The Department was seeking input from residents regarding their perceptions of the police department’s strengths, weaknesses, level of community involvement, feelings of safety, among many other survey points.
An agreement with UNH to conduct the survey was signed on January 26th of this year and the finished product was mailed to residents on March 13th. The UNH Survey Center designed the questions based on topics that were brought up in discussions with Chief Merner and the command staff during the fall of last year.
UNH randomly selected five thousand addresses across the city to receive the surveys. The packets were sent to an address only, without the resident’s name. UNH selected the addresses so as to have a cross-section representation of all the residential areas and demographics in Portsmouth. To insure complete objectivity and anonymity, the survey packets were devoid of numbers or address links. All the surveys were returned directly to the UNH Survey Center in a postage-paid return envelope. The response rate was high at 24 percent; 10 percent is considered a good return for this type of survey. This large response has given depth to the data.
The Portsmouth Police Department had no contact with the completed surveys. The UNH Survey Center will continue to hold all of the completed documents, and the police department will never see them. The only active participation by the police department was to print, assemble, and mail the blank surveys, instead of paying the survey center additional money to do this manual labor. The survey report contains narrative, bar charts for responses, demographics for each question and also includes every written response provided by the respondents to questions that requested that type of response. The same report given to the Police Department is now available to the public on the Police Department’s website at: