Police officers in Warrenton, Virginia, will be heading out to patrol the streets with a new tool in their belt: a business card with a link and QR code that allows civilians to rate their interactions with them.
The Warrenton Police Department is the first in the Commonwealth to use this system that allows the public to rate officers.
Officer Johnna Sylvester on Tuesday walked into a local business and explained the new tool.
“On the back, if you just scan it with your phone, it’s just a survey on how your interaction went with me today,” she said.
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Business owner Brandi Norrell said she was surprised by the system.
“Oh for sure. It takes you back, because it’s random. It’s a new way to do business,” Norrell said.
Accessing the tool is similar to ordering from digital menus at restaurants. To use, people can “go to your camera and then put the QR code in your screen and click that little yellow link and it pops up our survey,” Sylvester said.
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The officer’s name will pop up, and residents score the officer on how they treated them, fairness and can add any other comment they’d like.
“And I’ll be able to see everybody’s comment, what they rate me and what their comments are,” Sylvester said. “My supervisors, everybody in the PD [will be able to see it, too].”
Chief Michael Kochis said he’s pleasantly surprised at the amount of feedback coming in and explained why the tool is helpful to improve policing.
“Why is this officer’s score lower than the others? We can pull their bodycam footage and say maybe they’re not doing anything technically wrong, from a policy standpoint, but maybe they can be a little bit more personable,” Kochis said.
Warrenton officers also hand them out during traffic stops. In one body camera video, an officer can be seen approaching the driver’s window and saying, “Alright ma’am, I’m gonna give you a warning, OK?... And I’m gonna give you a card.”
Sylvester said she’s already gotten some feedback.
“I have been able to learn that I am good at communicating with people and listening to them,” she said.
Warrenton police said they realize that not all the reviews will be raving, but that’s the point — to find trends in honest feedback to better serve their community.