To give a sense of the types of reports that can result from this data collection, the following are excerpts from the Red Hook survey report produced in 2000, using data collected in 1999. This report includes findings over time and has a format that is readable and accessible. It attempts to summarize the findings and also present them in a way that will allow readers to draw their own conclusions about the data. This flexibility adds to the credibility of the reports data.
In October 1999, 50 members of the Red Hook Public Safety Corps, an AmeriCorps community service program, administered a communitywide household survey in Red Hook, Brooklyn, for the fifth consecutive year. Known as Operation Data, the survey focused mainly on residents perceptions of neighborhood public safety and quality of life, existing community resources, and the criminal justice system. The 50 members of the Red Hook Public Safety Corps (the majority of whom are Red Hook residents) completed 968 interviewsa sizeable sample of a community with only 10,846 residents. The survey reached 9 percent of the community or 18 percent of the households in Red Hook (the respondents reported a median household size of two people).
In teams of five people, the Corps covered all major geographical areas in Red Hookthe Red Hook Houses, businesses, and private residences. Team members went door-to-door to houses and, in some cases, to various organizations (e.g., the Housing Authority management office and the local health clinic) to find residents who were not at home. They administered the survey in both Spanish and English.
The data suggest the following conclusions:
Satisfaction with Red Hook is leveling off. The percentage of people who are satisfied with Red Hook (50 percent) has decreased slightly from a peak of 57 percent in 1998. In addition, after 4 years, this year marks the first decrease in the percentage of people who feel the quality of life in Red Hook is improving. In the 2000 report, 51 percent said the quality of life was better than last year, compared to 62 percent in the 1999 report, 63 percent in the 1998 report, and 34 percent in the 1997 report.
Violence in Red Hook is a big problem. Violence seems to be on the rise in Red Hook. The percentage of people who report fighting and mugging as a major problem has increased steadily since 1996from 42 percent to 62 percent for fighting and from 40 percent to 51 percent for mugging. In addition, more than 35 percent of the participants report carrying a weapon as a safety precaution.
Fear in Red Hook is down. At the same time, the level of fear seems to be decreasing substantially. In 1998, more than 65 percent reported feeling unsafe at night in subways, lobbies, and streets, and only 45 percent reported feeling unsafe in similar areas in 1999.
Improved perceptions of the criminal justice system. For the fourth straight year, the percentage of respondents who rated the police, courts, and district attorney as positive increased. Between 1996 and 1999, positive perceptions of criminal justice agencies increased from 14 percent to 38 percent for the police, from 10 percent to 30 percent for the courts, and from 9 percent to 28 percent for the district attorney.
B. Neighborhood Quality of Life
For the fourth straight year, quality-of-life issues still dominated the participants responses as the biggest problems in Red Hook. While drugs remain the most prevalent problem (selling at 82 percent and using at 72 percent), littering, garbage, public drinking, public fighting, and graffiti were all identified as problems by more than 60 percent of the participants. Child abuse/neglect, panhandling, burglary, prostitution, shoplifting, and mugging were cited less frequently.
Over the 4 years, it seems violence is on the rise: 62 percent felt that public fighting was a big problem, up from 42 percent in 1996. Concerns about mugging and burglary increased by more than 5 percent. In addition, more than 35 percent reported carrying a weapon, either sometimes or always, as a safety precaution. In contrast, fewer participants cited streets and abandoned property as problems compared to the last 2 years.
Victimization. Indications that violence is on the rise are further evident in terms of victimization. Looking over the past 5years, the percentage who report knowing someone who was a victim of violent crime has increased. The greatest increases were in domestic abuse (more than 20 percent in 1999 compared to 10 percent in 1996), rape/sexual assault (15 percent in 1999 compared to 6 percent in 1995), and child abuse (more than 16 percent in 1999 compared to 11 percent in 1996). More than 18 percent said they knew a victim of a shooting, assault, or robbery.
C. Community Resources
This section is crucial to any community justice survey in that it shows that you care about what the community thinks about your programs that operate in the neighborhood.
Red Hook Public Safety Corps. The Corps work in the community is becoming better known. Knowledge of the Corps increased 7 percentfrom 61 percent who had heard of the Corps in 1998 to 68 percent in 1999. Of those who had heard of the Corps, most knew from friends (41 percent) and family (24 percent). More than 60 percent said they were satisfied with the Corps, down slightly from 67 percent the previous year.
In terms of the services offered by the Corps, the most well known are the most visible or long-term projects, such as the Red Hook Youth Baseball League (85 percent), Coffey Park clean-up activities (82 percent), community gardens (80 percent), and graffiti removal projects (79 percent). Mediation remained the least known project of all the Corps services during the fourth year.
Red Hook Youth Court. In only its second year, the Youth Courta program that trains youth to serve as judges, jurors, and attorneys to hear cases of youth who commit low-level offenses such as truancy and fare evasionhas made its presence known in the community. More than 58 percent of the survey participants had heard of the Youth Court. When asked about their satisfaction with the program, 68 percent reported being satisfied or very satisfied, a slight decrease from 76 percent a year earlier.
Other community services. Although the majority of respondents rated several community agencies (e.g., the Corps, schools, afterschool programs, and churches) as strengths, this still represents a lower percentage of people than in 1998. The biggest changes from the previous year were the percentage of those who felt soup kitchens were strengths (increased from 31 percent to 44 percent); social services agencies were strengths (increased from 35 percent to 45 percent); and economic/business development programs were strengths (increased from 37 percent to 46 percent).
D. Criminal Justice
When participants were asked about their opinion of various criminal justice agencies, they were most positive about the Red Hook Community Justice Center, followed by the police, judicial system, and district attorney. Overall support for the justice system has increased substantially since 1996: the percentage who feel positive increased for the police (from 14 percent to 38 percent), for the judicial system (from 10 percent to 30 percent), and for the district attorneys office (from 9 percent to 28 percent).
More people are hearing about the Justice Center. Almost 60 percent of the survey participants had heard about the Justice Centerup 5 percent from the previous year. When asked if they would use services at the Justice Center, more than 80 percent said yes to all of the listed services. The service that was seen as most helpful was job training, followed by daycare, law-related education, and a landlord/ tenant resource center.