September 5, 2012
The Colorado State Patrol is getting a helping hand from CSU students in an effort to better understand what the state's residents think of the job they're doing patrolling Colorado's highways.
A group of current and former CSU students has spent the past several months surveying state residents about their experiences with CSP. The results, which will be made public in 2013, will help CSP connect with the people they serve.
"The collaborative effort allows us to partner not only with one of the nation's leading research universities, but also with people across the state," said Col. James Wolfinbarger, chief of the Colorado State Patrol. "We deeply value our relationship with Colorado's residents, and their feedback will help us determine if our current goals are in the best interest of the communities we serve."
Survey participants can answer questions regarding the Patrol's strategic focus, community outreach and enforcement operations. Participants will remain anonymous.
While much of the survey incorporates focused questions and answers, all participants will have the opportunity to submit additional comments in an open format.
Prabha Unnithan, professor of sociology and director of CSU’s Center for the Study of Crime and Justice, was happy to partner with CSP on the project, which is giving students hands-on experience in research. Students, he said, do a much better job of performing the surveys than private companies.
“This is a valuable educational experience for our students, and we are very happy to be partnering with the Colorado State Patrol on this project,” said Prabha Unnithan. “Students get a chance to talk to people from all walks of life while doing these surveys, and they learn to respect all opinions. They not only learn about the principles of survey research but also how to apply them. And we help the Patrol plan for the future. It’s a win-win for both organizations.”
Unnithan said this is the fourth time CSP has worked with the CSCJ. CSP, he said, appreciates the professional approach of the student surveyors, while he welcomes the opportunity for students to deal with people from all walks of life.
“Since we have taken over these surveys, CSP is getting more responses due to the diligence of our students, which helps them get more accurate results,” he said. “It’s a great learning tool for our students. They learn to respect all opinions, good or bad.”
In addition to gaining valuable job experience, students earn sociology credits for their work. Many of them blossom doing the surveys.
“They may not shine in the regular classroom but they are all-stars in this setting,” Unnithan said. “It’s very gratifying to see that happen.”
CSU professors Tara Shelley and Mike Hogan are the other researchers leading this study.