The results of a survey measuring public attitudes toward police officers in La Crosse are expected to be released soon and are not dependent on University of Wisconsin-La Crosse students processing the data.
La Crosse County Board of Supervisors chair Monica Kruse said she expects a report by the end of July.
The survey was developed by UW-La Crosse assistant professor of marketing Nese Nasif, a member of a subcommittee examining whether to create a police oversight board in La Crosse County.
“Contrary to my understanding of the situation, Professor Nasif did not develop the survey with students as a class project,” Kruse said. “Rather, she designed and implemented it on her own as a research project and as a service to the subcommittee she served on. Her plan all along was to work on the report during her summer down time.”
More than 1,400 people responded to the survey that the county helped promote. Responses were collected on an Excel spreadsheet, which was made public after open records requests by Coulee Region Conservatives and the La Crosse Tribune.
Coulee Region Conservatives, which first publicized results in May, blasted the survey, saying it was developed by a “woke cult” to promote an “anti-American” agenda. It said the results showed considerable support for local police and were “the exact opposite of what they wanted in order to advance their cult agenda.”
One of the questions asked respondents to rank their local city law enforcement agency on a scale of one to 10, and most respondents gave police high marks. A review by the Tribune showed 10 as the most common response, followed by nine, eight and seven. Fifty-eight percent of respondents gave their local police an eight, nine or 10 rating, while 15% chose zero, one, two or three.
Many respondents questioned the objectivity of the survey and the need for an oversight board.
Nasif denied the survey was biased. She said her marketing background makes her genuinely curious about public opinion and that she approached the survey from a neutral standpoint.
“I’m looking for overall themes,” she said. “I leave my political leanings out of it.”
She said a computer program will process the results and confirmed the late July release.
Kruse said the survey was never expected to play a role in deciding whether to move ahead with a civilian oversight board for law enforcement agencies at the county level.
“There was never an expectation that survey results would inform or influence the subcommittee recommendations,” Kruse said. “We felt it would be interesting and instructive to gauge public sentiment. We knew all along that survey results would not be available by the time we were planning to present our recommendations.”