Skip to Main Content

Press Release for Friday, February 3, 2017

New Jacksonville Sheriff's Office Survey Shows Community Supports Police

Media Contact: Joanna Norris, Director

Department of Public Relations

(904) 620-2102

The Public Opinion Research Laboratory (PORL) at the University of North Florida recently conducted a community survey on behalf of the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office that reveals the community overwhelmingly supports police on the First Coast.


The JSO Community Survey results show the vast majority-78-percent, of Jacksonville residents approve of the way the Sheriff's Office is handling its job. Patrol Zone 2 had the highest level of overall approval at 83 percent, while Patrol Zone 5 had the lowest level of overall approval, with 73 percent.


"In a somewhat surprising finding, given the national narrative the last year or two, even the areas of town that face the highest crime rates are very supportive of the police," said Dr. Michael Binder, PORL faculty director.


Most Jacksonville resident-88 percent-agreed they feel safe in their neighborhood. Patrol Zone 3 had the highest assessment of neighborhood safety, 93 percent. Patrol Zones 1 and 5 had the highest percentages of respondents who indicated they don't feel safe in their neighborhoods, with 20 percent and 21 percent respectively.


Overall, 70 percent of residents agree that Jacksonville is a safe place to live. In Patrol Zone 1 (33 percent), Patrol Zone 4 (35 percent) and Patrol Zone 5 (32 percent), approximately a third of respondents don't think Jacksonville is a safe place to live.


"In a lot of ways, this is analogous to the 'I don't like Congress, but I like my Congressman' phenomena," said Binder. "Residents feel safe where they live and work but are less optimistic about Jacksonville in general."


When asked about specific encounters with JSO personnel, 79 percent agreed they found them to be courteous and competent. Patrol Zone 6 had the highest level of perceived courtesy and competence, with 84 percent. Patrol Zone 5 had the most respondents (19 percent) who disagreed that JSO personnel are courteous and competent. While white respondents strongly agree (61 percent), only 35 percent of black respondents strongly agree that JSO personnel are courteous and competent.


"While generally in agreement about courteousness and competency, the strength of agreement is one of the few findings that greatly differs among racial groups," Binder noted. "If improving community relations is a goal of JSO's leadership, this might be an area to focus on for the future."


One of the most intriguing findings of the entire survey is the consistency in the responses of an open-ended question about what JSO could do for the respondent in their neighborhood, according to Binder. Across all patrol zones, approximately half of the responses wanted an increase in patrols, visibility or police presence.


Most Jacksonville residents-61 percent-think JSO does a good job investigating officer-involved shootings. However, there are meaningful differences across racial groups, with 71 percent of white respondents agreeing that JSO does a good job handling these occurrences, whereas only 44 percent of black respondents agreed.


"In light of recent media attention, this highlights one of the differences in opinion within Jacksonville's diverse community," said Binder.


Additionally, the survey revealed that at 93 percent, there is unequivocal support in Duval County for the use of body cameras for JSO officers.


"There is almost no variation across patrol zones," noted Binder. "The stunning levels of support for the implementation of body cameras across all demographic groups, and I suspect likely for differing reasons, suggests that JSO should find a way to bring this initiative to life."


The survey was sponsored and funded by the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office and conducted November 14 through December 11, 2016, by the Public Opinion Research Laboratory (PORL) at the University of North Florida. The PORL has a 27-station telephone-polling laboratory that uses Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing. A sample of the polling universe (Jacksonville, Florida, residents age 18 and older) was selected through the use of Random-Digit-Dialing methodology for both landlines and cell phones. Scientific Telephone Samples provided all of the telephone numbers used for the survey.


The total sample contained 1,711 adult Jacksonville, Florida, residents and had a response rate of 16.5 percent. AAPOR Response Rate 4 includes an estimate of what proportion of cases of unknown eligibility are actually eligible and includes partial interviews as completes. The margin of sampling error for the entire sample is +/- 2.4 percentage points. Margins of error for each patrol zone are larger.


Upon reaching individuals through the landline telephone sample, respondents were selected in the household by being the first qualified participant to be available to participate. The breakdown of completed responses on a cell phone to a landline phone was 81 percent to 18 percent, with less than 1 percent unknown. Cell phone sample respondents were selected by being the first qualified participant to answer the phone.


To ensure a representative sample, surveys were conducted in both English and Spanish. Calls were made from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week (except for Thanksgiving weekend). Stratified sampling, using the six JSO police patrol zones was used for geographical representation. Quotas were placed on each subgroup to ensure a large enough sample of completed surveys from each patrol zone. Each JSO police patrol zone was weighted by age, gender and race to the estimated 2015 American Community Survey. This analysis produced sample data for demographic characteristics of people who are 18 years of age or older and live in Jacksonville, Florida (excluding the Beaches communities).


The PORL is a full-service survey research facility that provides tailored research to fulfill each client's individual needs from political, economic, social and cultural projects. The PORL opened in 2001 and is an independent, non-partisan center, a charter member of the American Association for Public Opinion Research Transparency Initiative and a member of the Association of Academic Survey Research Organization. For more information about methodology, contact Binder at (904) 620-2784 or by email at


UNF, a nationally ranked university located on an environmentally beautiful campus, offers students who are dedicated to enriching the lives of others the opportunity to build their own futures through a well-rounded education.