Background and methodology
The Virginia Highland Security Patrol (or FBAC which stands for Fight Back Against Crime) is a security patrol program that is staffed by off-duty Atlanta police, supported through voluntary contributions from residents and businesses, and administered by neighborhood volunteers. In February 2015 a survey was conducted to assist the volunteers to improve service and increase membership. The current survey is being conducted to assess the impact of changes made to the program in the past six months.
The survey was conducted online between August 12, 2015 and August 26, 2015. It was promoted via postings on FBAC’s Facebook Page, Nextdoor, and the VHList neighborhood bulletin board on Yahoo.
According to Nextdoor, there are now 6,059 households in Virginia-Highland. This is up slightly from our earlier survey which indicated 5,964 households. Nextdoor identifies 2071 households with at least one for a total of 2,991 members, 1,814 subscribe to the VHList, and 232 people have liked the FBAC Facebook page. However, there is overlap between these channels, so a definitive understanding of how many Virginia Highland Residents were exposed to the survey is not possible.
The survey was developed by Kay Stephenson with input from Nancy Safay, and John Wolfinger (FBAC volunteers), and from Sgt. Clark who manages the officers who work for the patrol. Because this was a follow-up survey, the questions focused in three areas: awareness of FBAC, membership in FBAC, and likelihood that the respondent would recommend FBAC to another resident. In addition, respondents were provided with the opportunity to share any other information with the team via write-in.
A total of fifty-eight people responded to the survey. This is substantially lower than the 172 respondents to the initial survey conducted in February, but a lower response rate is expected on a follow-up.
Note that this survey is not a scientific sampling and the response rate (estimated to be less than 10% of all Virginia Highland residents) is insufficient to predict responses for the neighborhood at large. Rather it offers a quick view of what members and non-members are thinking. Typically such a survey attracts more responses from strong supporters and strong detractors than folks in the middle.
Questions and Responses
Question 1 – Are you familiar with FBAC (Fight Back Against Crime) the Virginia Highland Security Patrol?
All but one of our fifty-eight respondents was familiar with FBAC prior to this survey.
Are you a member of FBAC?
In the initial survey respondents were evenly split between members and non-members. In this follow-up, we found that members responded about 2:1 as compared to non-members. Again, this is not surprising as members are more likely to support FBAC and be willing to invest time in a survey.
How likely are you to recommend FBAC (Fight Back Against Crime) the Virginia Highland Security Patrol to another resident?
None of our respondents skipped this question and the findings were generally positive. As in the previous survey, respondents were asked to indicate the likelihood of recommendation on a scale of zero to ten, with zero being not at all likely and ten being extremely likely.
The results show that 84% of members were somewhat likely, likely or extremely likely to recommend the program. Perhaps more interestingly, 30% of non-members fell into the same categories.
A more contemporary way of looking at satisfaction with a product or service is to look at the Net Promotor Score (NPS). In this methodology, those who replied in the range of zero to six are considered detractors. Those responding in the range of seven to eight are considered passive, and those responding in the range of 9-10 are termed promoters. Obviously with a program such as ours, we need as many of our members as possible to be actively promoting FBAC.
In our survey 34% of respondents were detractors and 55% were promoters which yields a NPS of 21. For reference our NPS was only 15 on the initial survey, so this reflects a positive improvement. The change appears to come from neutrals that have been converted to promoters, hopefully reflecting our better communication and education efforts.
Is there anything else you would like to share with the FBAC volunteers? If you would like a response, please include your email address.
With this survey we did not ask for specific reasons that respondents were or were not members, we simply provided the opportunity to share any additional information that they thought would be helpful. Here are the comments. I have organized the comments into three categories – negative, positive, and questions & suggestions.
The two concerns continue to be price and visibility of patrol cars and officers. Keep in mind that this survey was completed before we discussed asking officers to make a more visible presence in the commercial nodes on Friday and Saturday evenings.
· I am not inclined to sign up for FBAC because I have only seen an FBAC patrol car once or twice in the past several months. My next door neighbor is a member and I have never seen anyone patrol or drive by his house.
· My perception continues to be that the patrol rarely covers my area (Orme Circle /Monroe). I have never seen a patrol vehicle. Perhaps it is late at night but nevertheless I have lived in the home 6 years and have never noticed a patrol. When I lived in Midtown I would see the MPSA truck multiple times each week.
· I still think that the pricing for condominium and apartment complexes is ridiculous. I live in a condo and pay for a single condo membership, because there is no way of convincing my other 15 neighbors that FBAC membership is a reasonable value to our building for the expense. I am seriously doubtful that any of the condo communities with more than 10 units in the neighborhood are members of FBAC. This opinion is based on the fact that when I drive through the neighborhood, I do not see a single a single street where 10 houses in a row are FBAC members. If 10 single family homes all in a row cannot all agree that supporting FBAC is worthwhile, why can FBAC expect 10 condo owners all in the same building to participate? This however, is the unreasonable expectation which the current FBAC pricing structure imposes when it states that "The entire complex must join for these rates to apply." I think that if FBAC implemented a more reasonable pricing structures for apartment and condominiums, it is likely that many more of these residential communities would participate than currently do.
· I am a recent member, but let my membership lapse because we never see a patrol on our street (Orme Circle) despite the fact that quite a few residents belong. A visible presence in the neighborhood is important to us.
· I'd like to see the FBAC vehicles look more like security patrol cars, with even more prominent signage, as a visual deterrent and signal to criminals that they should go to a different neighborhood and not ours. Similar to what Morningside has: the vehicles look like a security patrol car, not like a car with an Avon magnetic sign on the side of the car.
· I don't see any sign of the officers patrolling. While stealth is great for capturing bad guys. A show of force is a better deterrent, and Advertising for the group. Maybe just that I know longer walk at night.
· Very expensive compared to adjacent neighborhoods
The most often mentioned benefit continues to be vacation home checks.
· Appreciate very much the vacation checks.
· I didn't know a thing about FBAC, but I'm glad to know it exists. Crime in the area seems to be at an all-time high.
· I appreciate the informative newsletters.
· We plan on becoming a member, just haven't gotten round to it.
· Glad to know they are out in our neighborhood. Thanks!!
· I think the FBAC public relations campaign is working well, I do know more about FBAC now. Our household has still not joined, mainly for financial reasons. $300 a year is probably a good investment but that on top of $8000 in taxes is just hard to bite right now. That said, FBAC is still on our list for consideration.
· I appreciate this service. Have used it a number of times when out of town.
· Thank you for all your time and commitment to our neighborhood.
· FBAC looked after our home while on vacation. We had to cut the vacation short and in the confusion to get home we didn't contact FBAC. An officer saw the lights on and investigated. We were embarrassed but grateful for the attention and service. Thanks so much - we will definitely recommend FBAC and we will continue to pay for and use the service.
· Good program!
Questions & Suggestions
These comments will be addressed in the cover message when the report is distributed.
· Is it an idea to develop a referral program? Where any neighbor that brings on a new member gets X number of months free membership? Any program like this suffers from the "free rider" challenge....
· It looks like the biggest problem in our community is car break-ins. From the emails, these are rarely observed and rarely is anyone caught, so they continue. How about a new program to stop these incidents? One way to do this, is with a bait car in one of the high incident areas, with a laptop bag on the seat, and an officer nearby. I would be happy to help support financially a project that gets real results on the car break-ins, and I'm sure others would too if we could show results.
· What do you recommend that we can do as residents politically or otherwise to deter or prevent violent crimes in the neighborhood? The recent armed robberies and carjacking are disturbing.