Social Work professor assists Portland Police with crime and safety survey
Thomas Chalmers McLaughlin, Ph.D., co-director of the Social Work Center for Research and Evaluation, is assisting the Portland Police Department by organizing and analyzing an online survey to gauge residents’ opinions about crime, police effectiveness and overall safety in the city.
McLaughlin says lending a hand to the police is in line with the center’s mission.
“The goal is to provide community, nonprofit organizations with the tools to do their own program evaluation,” he said. “UNE is a big part of the Portland community, and I feel that we need to give back.”
Mclaughlin has some experience dealing with crime. Before coming to the University of New England, he was an officer with the Biddeford Police Department for 13 years beginning in the 1990’s.
“Some people leave their houses unlocked in the middle of the city,” McLaughlin told the Portland Press Herald. “Other people would never do that because someone will come in and take everything they own. It’s definitely a personal kind of perception.”
The city wants to know how well the police respond to crimes and what residents believe are pressing public safety issues in their neighborhoods. Links to the survey are available on the city and police department website as well as the police Facebook page.
McLaughlin will analyze the data and help police look at trends. In turn, that will help guide department decisions about crime reduction and community policing.
“We'll probably close the survey out next month, and then we'll start crunching the numbers,” McLaughlin explained. “We’ll likely present the report to the chief of police by the end of March.”