PORTLAND —  The Portland Police Department wants to know how well its officers are doing at their jobs and whether residents feel safe in their neighborhoods.

The department is conducting an online survey of residents’ attitudes about crime and police that will help police focus their resources.

“We want to connect with citizens and find out what their biggest issues are for the Police Department,” said Assistant Chief Vern Malloch. “We obviously have statistical data about crime and call volume, but don’t know how people feel about crime overall.”

The survey asks residents to rate 10 different crimes in terms of how serious a problem the crime is in their neighborhood. The crimes range from shootings and domestic violence to graffiti and public drinking.

It also asks whether the respondent called police when witnessing different crimes.

The 40-question survey asks residents how safe they feel in their home and walking in their neighborhood. It asks them to describe their interactions with police and evaluate how good a job beat officers and the department as a whole are doing.

It also asks about things that can affect residents’ quality of life, such as loitering or abandoned houses.

“It certainly helps inform our actions,” Malloch said. “One of the things we’ll do is take a look at the information we gather to see how it might be helpful in crime-reducing strategies going forward.”

Past surveys have sought to identify the public’s chief concerns. But this survey is the first to be conducted online and the first that will yield statistically valid data, Malloch said. Prior surveys were handed out through the city’s community policing centers.

The survey was developed with help from the University of New England’s School of Social Work. Once enough responses are received to provide representative samples from different parts of the city, the school will help the department analyze the results. The responses will be correlated with actual crime reports and with census data.

“We’ll have a good idea of what people’s perception is versus reality,” Malloch said.

The department expects to take two to three weeks to gather enough responses to represent all areas of the city.

The survey can be found at www.surveymonkey.com/s/PortlandPD or on Portland’s website, www.portlandmaine.gov.

David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at:

dhench@mainetoday.com