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Undergraduate students majoring in criminal justice at Lycoming College will be asking residents in four Williamsport neighborhoods near the College campus and in Newberry to participate in a survey assessing attitudes toward the local police. Students will be doing this field work from Oct. 5-Nov. 11, during early and late afternoon hours. The student research assistants are working as part of class assignments in two courses: Research Methods in Criminal Justice taught by Julie Yingling, Ph.D., assistant professor of criminal justice-criminology; and Policing and Society taught by Justin Medina, Ph.D., assistant professor of criminal justice-criminology. The professors have integrated the research project and student training into their Fall 2022 courses.
The student researchers will have identification badges indicating the collaboration between the Williamsport Bureau of Police and Lycoming College’s Department of Criminal Justice-Criminology. The principal investigators, Medina and Yingling, will supervise the student researchers during their fieldwork.
Residences in four Williamsport block groups were randomly selected using public records as being eligible for participation. Students will be asking adult residents living in Williamsport to participate in a short, anonymous and voluntary survey about their perceptions of local issues and police services.
This innovative approach builds on concepts introduced in Medina’s Policing and Society course and Yingling’s Research Methods course to strengthen and improve the ties between local justice agencies and the residents they serve.
The survey, developed by Medina, will gather information about respondent’s experiences and attitudes toward the police agency and neighborhood issues. The purpose of this survey is to continue strengthening ties between the police department, neighborhoods, residents, and local businesses. This same survey and undergraduate student research method has previously been completed in Old Lycoming Township Police Department in 2017, Tiadaghton Valley Regional Police Department in 2018, and Lock Haven Police Department in 2022. Medina plans to survey all block groups in Williamsport in summer 2023 using trained student researchers.
“Our students are looking forward to getting involved with the local community while learning more about public perceptions of law enforcement,” said Medina. “The results of the survey will help the police department continue to provide quality service to its surrounding communities. We appreciate the support we have received from the police and the community to ensure the survey will be a success.”
Yingling added, “Our students are excited to play such a major role in a research project and know that their efforts will be used by the police department to inform future community engagement.”
Participants in the survey will eligible to win gift cards drawn at a later date. Any questions about the survey can be directed via email to Medina (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Yingling (email@example.com) or Chief Justin Snyder (firstname.lastname@example.org).