Larchmont Residents Call For Unified Police Force

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“The people want the police departments to be consolidated,” said Council member Abby Katz. The police consolidation was one of the responses that stood out to the Board. Photo Credit: Pete Paguaga

MAMARONECK, N.Y.­ – A majority of Mamaroneck residents taking a town survey said they wanted the town to consolidate the three police departments.

“The people want the police departments to be consolidated,” said Council Member Abby Katz.

During the Town’s planning session meeting Wednesday before the Town Board Meeting, the survey's raw data was discussed by the Board members.

The survey was made available in July to all town residents, including those living in the villages of Mamaroneck and Larchmont in July.

Five percent of the town's population – 1,012 residents – responded to the survey.

“It was an unbelievable turnout,” said Town Supervisor Nancy Seligson, who was not alone in being positive about the turnout for the survey.

“I thought the survey was very useful to be in touch with the residents,” said Council Member Jaine Elkind Eney.

But not every member of the board was impressed with the turnout.

“I didn’t think it was all that useful,” said Council Member Ernest Odierna. 

Deputy Supervisor Phyllis Wittner agreed with Odierna and said, “It’s too small of a percentage, but it’s our fault for doing it in July instead of a non-vacationing month.”

The final results are not available to the public, but the results will be posted on the Town’s website on Oct. 3. 

There will also be a presentation with the final results at the Oct. 3 Town Board meeting. After the presentation, the residents will be able to go over the results and come back to a later meeting to discuss the survey with the board.

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Comments (7)

desanto:

Tom, I am addressing myself to the integrity of the results and the methods used.

The specific topic is not the issue with me. I mentioned sample size vs. method, because all too often people think the "bigger the better". Not so with polls and surveys.

Obviously, for a statistical universe the size of Larchmont and Mamaroneck you would have to use a sample size larger than you would for a national survey. However, I also mentioned diminishing returns. Once you get past a certain number, the marginal utilility begins to level off.

I am sure you recall, I mentioned that Gallop, Harris and Rasmussen use sample sizes no greater than 3,000 people and still produce results of 95% +- 2%

To put it into context, the major pollsters, are using a sample size that represents .00001 percent of the total U.S. population,(if my math is correct), to achieve results that are almost perfect.

Obviously, using that same percentage for the sample size when conducting a survey among a group the size of Larchmont/Mamaroneck residents, would be too small. However, a survey conducted from a group of, say,100 randomly chosen residents,(less than 0.5%), would produce results with a high range of statistical accuracy.

Once again the size doesn't matter,(unless it is too small).

Lest I repeat myself, the key operating word is integrity of data, and proper interpretation of the findings.

Obviously, the council is going to "spin" the results any way it wants to rationalize its decision.

That's politics !

desanto:

As I said in my previous post. The size of the sample is less important than how the results are interpreted.

Granted, for a very small group, such as the combined populations of Larchmont and Mamaroneck, you may need a larger sample size to achieve the best results. However, there comes a time when you reach a point of diminishing returns. By that I mean, sample size is no longer key to the accuracy of the survey.

It goes back to my initial contention that you do not need to have a sample size of more than 30% to achieve an accurate result.

It is unfortunate that the survey questionaire was in your spam folder. However, rest assured that even without your input, the survey results could still be valid if the data was collected and interpreted properly.

You should be relieved that you found the questionaire before it was trashed. Unfortuately for me, I deleted it without seeing what it was.

Tom Resident:

Dr. Desanto,

You said:

“As I said in my previous post. The size of the sample is less important than how the results are interpreted.”

And again I agree.

You also said, “It goes back to my initial contention that you do not need to have a sample size of more than 30% to achieve an accurate result. “

OK. At about 5%, this survey doesn’t, so let's call it accurate.

The problem lies with how the results are interpreted.

Allowing for the validity of the survey, 2/3’s of the respondents do not want consolidated services. The survey itself also says more respondents of each area want services provided by their own areas. These are the published results, there is no refuting that. How can members of the town board then turn around and “interpret” this as a call for unified emergency services? I think you’d need more of a “majority” to get so much as a block party in this town.

Furthermore, and this is much more glaring, I think is the fact that the fire department is left out of this alleged consolidation call. Based on the report presented to the town board, when consolidation is mentioned, it is either a generic “shared services” or “police and fire”, but never police alone. Yet, if one were to listen to the town board members, the residents just want to consolidate the police and only the police. Why pick on the cops? What’s the hidden agenda against the police department?

engelesq:

If the Town had MAILED the survey to all Town (including Village) residents the response might have been appreciably larger, and the results appreciably more accurate.

My survey was in my spam folder--I just happened to see it.

It's like the invitations to the Town's 350th birthday party, which the Town did not mail to its residents, so that many if not most Town residents had no idea that it was to occur.

If the Town really cares that substantially all of its residents receive what it wants them to receive, use mail, not email.

Tom Resident:

"As long as the survey was conducted by professionals and the results interpreted properly, it would probably produce a fairly accurate outcome."

Agreed. The problem lies with how the town board is portraying these results. Let's accept that the five percent of town residents that responded is a valid sample size.This survey conducted by professionals is telling us, by their own report, that 3 out of 10 respondents are pro-consolidation. Seventy percent are not. How then can one state that "the people" want the emergency services consolidated, as Councilmember Katz proclaimed?

"More respondents in each area would like police and fire
services provided by departments in their own area." How much did the town board spend on this survey to get this answer? Yet they proclaim that service consolidation is what the people want. How can they justify further spending to study or attempt to implement services consolidation that two-thirds of respondents to the survey do not want? Some members of the town board are taking a taxpayer funded survey that they themselves stated would guide future decision making and attempting to pursue an agenda that, based on the survey responses, is contrary to the will of the people.

Tom Resident:

Mr. Paguaga,

Your headline states:

"Larchmont Residents Call For Unified Police Force" and you have an opening of "A majority of Mamaroneck residents taking a town survey said they wanted the town to consolidate the three police departments".

Yet further along in the article, you write that "five percent of the town's population – 1,012 residents – responded to the survey". With a total population of nearly 21,000 of over 18 year old people, this 5 percent, a little over 1,000 residents, would hardly represent the "call" of a "majority" for anything, wouldn't you agree?

Furthermore, a little searching to the town's website at:

http://www.townofmamaroneck.org/clerk/minutes2/TownBoardDocuments_09-19-2012.pdf

pulls up the report on the survey. Page 5 of this report states "Over 30% of respondents would like to see police and fire services shared among
the town and its villages". Allowing for rounding and being generous, let's say this is 35% percent. At 1,012 respondents, that is 354.2 (let's say 355) residents "would like to see police and fire services shared among the town and its villages".

How does 355 residents out of a potential 21,280 total population (page 3 of the report), or even the 1,012 survey respondents constitute a majority?

Finally, Councilmember Katz's quote of “The people want the police departments to be consolidated,” completely contradicts page 6 of the report, which states: "More respondents in each area would like police and fire
services provided by departments in their own area yet most respondents in all areas would like to see these services shared". She totally neglects the fire service, and her own constituents, and disregards us town residents that have responded that we would like police and fire services provided by departments in our own area!

I ask of you Mr. Paguaga, why is there such spin here in the face of printed results?

A Concerned Town Resident

desanto:

I have a PhD in Political Science.
While working on my graduate degree, I took courses on Public Opinion. As a result, I can say unequivocally that when conducting a survey of any kind, sample size is not as important as accuracy of data collection and interpretation.

As long as the results fall within a standard deviation they can be considered as fairly reliable.

It should be noted that the large professional pollsters, Rasmussen, Harris and Gallup, allow as little as a two or three point,(sometimes more), variation from the trend line and can still project results with accuracy. In addition, these pollsters, use samples as small as 2,000 to 3,000 people when conducting a nationwide survey and still manage to produce results within 95% accuracy +- 2%

None of the professional polling companies would ever consider a 30- 35% sample size. This is due to the fact that in polling, (unlike some other things), size does not matter, and in fact may even distort the results !

As long as the survey was conducted by professionals and the results interpreted properly, it would probably produce a fairly accurate outcome.

David De Santo

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