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Document: Missouri State Highway Patrol Survey

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The Missouri Highway Patrol received a high approval rating in a recent public survey, but that doesn't mean improvements can't still be made to the agency's service, officials said.

Every three years, the patrol conducts public surveys to get residents' opinions of the level of service provided by the patrol. This year, nearly 94 percent of the respondents gave the patrol a "good" or "excellent" rating.

"We didn't see anything that particularly concerned us from the results. But no matter how good the results are, if you are not striving to do better, then you're doing something wrong," Patrol Spokesman Capt. John Hotz said.

Slightly more than 51 percent of the respondents said they had direct contact in some way with the patrol. Just more than 94 percent said patrol personnel had a good attitude and demeanor, and nearly 90 percent said they had a good or excellent experience when they had contact with the patrol.

Eighty percent of respondents said the patrol's primary duty should be enforcing criminal laws. The majority — just more than 88 percent — said they approved of using sobriety checkpoints to try and find intoxicated drivers.

Hotz said this was the second time an online survey was conducted. The response rate increased compared to a mail-in survey, but there are still limitations to be considered when interpreting the results, he said.

"Because the web link was available to anyone with a computer, there was no control over who responded, so that produced a non-random sample," Hotz said. "A total of 2,476 people responded to the survey from Aug. 1-31. There were 1,944 Missouri residents, 64 nonresidents, and the remaining 468 did not say where they were from."

A breakdown of the respondents showed 91 percent were white and only 0.8 percent were black. Most of the respondents who listed their zip codes came from Central Missouri, the Lake of the Ozarks area and along the Missouri/Arkansas border.

"We serve not only the citizens of Missouri, but also the people who travel through the state for vacation or work," Hotz said. "We want to hear from anyone who we would have contact on our day-to-day missions."

The 2,476 respondents in 2020 is an increase of nearly 37 percent from the 1,812 total in 2017. The proportion of women responding increased, going from 39.5 percent in 2017 to 44.7 percent in 2020. In the 2017 survey, most of those responding were 45-55 years old. In 2020, most of the responses came from 56- to 65-year-olds.

Hotz said it was not possible to determine if attitudes changed over the last three years or if the surveys just sampled two different population samples.

"Even with the increases in respondents, the overall attitudes of respondents toward the patrol were positive in both surveys," Hotz noted.

The 2020 Missouri State Highway Patrol Public Opinion Survey is available on the patrol's website, mshp.dps.missouri.gov. The survey can be found in the top left corner of the home page.

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