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MPD oversight board considers funding request for community survey


The Morgantown Civilian Police Review and Advisory Board plans to move forward with a community survey to better understand the perceptions of policing in the community, which could cost about $10,000 or less.

Vice Chair Rachel Fetty said they want to have a clear understanding of what the community wants, not one specific group.

“We are here to make proposals; we are here to take into consideration the feelings of the folks that want us to be here,” Fetty said. “It will help to know, with as much detail as possible, what that perception is.”

One approach suggested by board member Megan Gandy is a community-based participatory action research study. The approach puts the researcher together with community partners to design and administer the survey. It’s a three-part process that includes focus groups, paper surveys and interviews.

“We want to think about doing it with high-quality data,” Gandy said. “We don’t want to do something that’s only going to capture the views of some people and exclude the views of other people.”

Much of the research would be completed by Gandy, an associate professor in the West Virginia University School of Social Work, and her students during the summer.

“One of the things that is key to this process is getting input from multiple stakeholders,” Gandy said. “That includes the police department, members of the community and special stakeholder groups, so we can capture the opinions of everybody.”

The cost of the survey could be up to about $10,000 and would include the production of a paper survey, the purchase of a mailing list and postage. The cost decreases with options other than the community-based participatory action research study, but so does the quality of the input, according to Gandy.

“The post card would link people to an online survey and the paper survey would be the whole thing that they could fill out and mail back to us,” Gandy said.

Fetty told members of the board she was willing to get involved in the collection process once the method was established.

“For example, I would be willing to go down to an encampment, take a computer and let folks take the survey online — kind of old-school social work-type stuff,” Fetty said.