Report on the 2023 Douglas County Community Survey


Executive Summary

In the fall of 2023, we surveyed (via mail + web) a random sample of residents of unincorporated Douglas County about their perceptions of the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, their neighborhoods, and crime and disorder problems, among other topics. The final report provides detailed results of the survey. The key findings were as follows:

  1. For questions that had been previously asked in the 2021 survey, residents’ perceptions were statistically indistinguishable. That is, respondents viewed DCSO no better, no worse than they did two years ago.
  2. By and large, respondents indicated that DCSO is doing a good job fighting crime, apprehending dangerous high-risk/repeat offenders, dealing with problems that occur in neighborhoods, and being available when needed. However, there was slightly less agreement that DCSO was doing a good job being visible on the streets: about 17% of the sample said DCSO was doing bad or very bad on this.
  3. The majority of the sample expressed willingness to cooperate with DCSO in the form of reporting crimes, suspicious activities, or accidents, and working with DCSO to identify criminal suspects. However, the sample was less in agreement about their willingness to attend a neighborhood crime prevention meeting. About 1in 3 respondents said it would be unlikely or very unlikely for them to do so.
  4. For the most part, the sample perceived DCSO deputies as having the necessary skills to do their jobs, involved in positive community engagement activities, respectful, and willing to listen to people. However, as we observed in the 2021 survey, the sample was much more split in terms of perceived distributive fairness of deputies (i.e., that a citizen’s demographic characteristics influences how deputies decide to resolve matters). About 45% of the sample agreed or strongly agreed that deputies deliver different outcomes based on a person’s demographic background. Such perceptions can undermine police legitimacy and make residents less willing to cooperate with the police.
  5. Respondents expressed positive beliefs about the level of social cohesion and informal social control in their neighborhoods.
  6. In terms of crime and disorder problems in their neighborhoods:
  • About 1 in 5 respondents said litter and drunk driving were at least somewhat of a problem.
  • About 1 in 4 respondents said vandalism was at least somewhat of a problem.
  • 1 in 10 respondents said people selling/using illegal drugs was at least somewhat of a problem.
  • 1 in 4 respondents said residential burglaries were at least somewhat of a problem.
  • Half of the sample said traffic issues such as speeding and reckless driving were somewhat of a problem; 15% said these were serious problems.
  1. Residents largely reported feeling safe living in their neighborhoods.
  2. Regarding the mental health resources provided by DCSO, 3 in 4 respondents fell in the neutral category, with the remainder of the sample split between satisfied and unsatisfied.
  3. Sixty-six respondents provided additional comments and suggestions for DCSO in the space provided at the end of the survey. We have included them, unedited, at the end of the report.
Justin Nix
Justin Nix
Distinguished Associate Professor

My research centers on policing with emphases on procedural justice, legitimacy, and police shootings.