New ‘Sentiment Meter’ Tracks Public Opinion of Your Local Police
A public approval tool designed to measure police performance at the local and state levels was recently launched in New York. Sentiment Meter, as it is called, is developed by Brooklyn-based startup Elucd, and after being adopted by the New York Police Department (NYPD) it is catching on with other police departments across the country. It measures how the public perceives police officers and the entire police department and rates them against certain criteria.
Given the rate at which police shootings and brutality in the news has watered down public trust, the Sentiment Meter is an attempt to re-establish trust between the public and the police.
Rating Your Local Police Through the Sentiment Meter
The meter awards monthly “trust scores” to police precincts and gives ratings about overall police performance as they relate to public trust and satisfaction. Elucd uses nearly 50,000 smartphone apps including Candy Crush and WeatherBug to administer questionaires to the general public in order to cull usable data. The company has also recently begun to use Facebook and Instagram to drive traffic to the surveys on their platform.
Elucd’s website says it “helps leaders improve trust and safety through data” and “measures how your residents feel about vital questions essential to running a city ー like whether they feel safe in their neighborhoods and how much they trust their local police.”
Elucd uses data by gathering residents opinions on police performance and provides “hyper-local measurement — like a credit score for a neighborhood.” Tracking the data over time, Elucd claims will enable police to track what works to build community trust and what doesn’t.
With up to 8.6 million living in New York City, the relationship between police and the communities they serve has become very strained. One of the ways to restore public confidence again in the face of viral police violence against citizens is to give people the power to measure their performance, said Michael Simon, Elucd’s 37-year-old co-founder.
“The relationship between police and the communities they serve is at a crisis in many cities,” said Michael Simon, Elucd’s 37-year-old co-founder. “And they have no way of measuring what success is right now. It’s shocking.”
Elucd’s Sentiment Meter measures human feelings after adoption by the NYPD; now other police departments such as the LAPD, the Chicago Police Department and the city of Grand Rapids in Michigan have caught the Elucd bug.
Potential but Still Challenges Ahead for Elucd
There is, however, a serious challenge: police officers may see this tool as a threat to their duties. Additionally, mid-level police supervisors are at a loss on how to respond to Sentiment Meter’s monthly results and do not currently know what to do with the “trust score” generated from public opinions. Beat cops say they are yet to be fully introduced to the tool.
“If I can be totally candid, one of the reasons that NYPD has been slower to move is because they don’t know what to do in response to it,” Simon agreed. “No one has any real training on how to build trust in the right direction.”
Simon disclosed that the anonymous data Elucd collects from the public is private and confidential, but several critics cast doubt as to the integrity of the data. The National Opinion Research Center has however issued recommendations which Elucd has implemented many of.