Penn State to launch survey of University Police services

September 03, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A confidential University-wide survey is being conducted by Penn State University Police and Public Safety to gain a better understanding of student and employee attitudes and opinions related to police services and programs and campus safety. The survey is being administered by the Penn State Office of Planning and Assessment. The results will be used to improve University Police services for all community members.

The survey, which has been in the planning stages since 2018, is being conducted as a standard part of the police department’s accreditation process through the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies. The survey is intended to be used as a platform for organizational learning, and will ask specific questions about the quality of policing on campus and in the campus community to help measure how policing in the Penn State community affects public trust.

On Sept. 13, about 34,000 members of the Penn State community will receive the survey, spread across the 22 campuses where University Police provides services. A random sample of students and employees at Penn State’s University Park, Abington, Altoona, Berks, Behrend and Harrisburg campuses, as well as all students and employees at smaller Penn State campuses, will be invited to complete the survey.

Participants should take note that this survey is specifically assessing police on Penn State’s campuses; this survey is not assessing police services provided off campus by other police agencies.

Participants’ responses to the survey will be confidential. Participants may provide their name and contact information if they wish to be contacted by someone from University Police about their experiences. However, this information is not required and the names of those who provide it will not be associated with their answers. Raw data will not be provided by the Office of Planning and Assessment to University Police; findings will only be reported in the aggregate.

This survey, which will take about 15 minutes to complete, will ask participants questions about University Police regarding:

  • overall performance;
  • overall competency of agency employees;
  • citizens’ perception of officers’ attitudes and behavior;
  • community concern over safety and security within University Police’s jurisdiction; and
  • citizens’ recommendations and suggestions for improvements.

Betty Harper, assistant director of learning outcomes assessment in the Office of Planning and Assessment, said the survey will help University Police gain a clearer understanding of how the community perceives its programs, services and overall performance.

“Understanding students’ and employees’ perceptions of Penn State’s police services is important so that those services can best meet the needs and expectations of the Penn State community,” Harper said. “It’s critically important that we hear from as many students and employees as possible to capture a comprehensive representation of all types of experiences at all locations served. We encourage all students and employees who receive the survey to take some time to participate so that their experiences, opinions and attitudes regarding University Police services can be accurately documented.”

The questions were designed after reviewing survey instruments from peer institutions and with consideration for local contexts. Penn State’s Office of Planning and Assessment assisted University Police with shaping the questions. The responses will provide information that is crucial for assessing police services at Penn State.

Please note that some of the questions about police services may be related to a traumatic or upsetting experience for some participants, which may cause discomfort to recall. Those participants may choose not to complete the survey or skip questions within the survey. If a participant is concerned that recalling such experiences may be challenging, they are encouraged to seek assistance from Counseling and Psychological Services (students) or Penn State's Employee Assistance Program (employees). 

University Police will release the results of the survey in spring 2020. The survey will be conducted every two years. For more information about the survey, see the Frequently Asked Questions

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated August 06, 2020