HERMISTON - The Hermiston Police Department wants to know what you think.

The department is preparing a questionnaire to be distributed to residents in their water bill over the next month, polling their attitudes and perceptions on crime and how well the police department is doing fighting it.

Police Chief Dan Coulombe said he hopes the survey will become a yearly tradition, where residents, or "customers," sound off.

"This is information we need to know," Coulombe said.

The surveys are anonymous and include 13 questions about residents' attitudes about police service, their perception of the biggest law enforcement issues in their neighborhood, and four questions related to demographics, such as gender and how long the respondent has lived in Hermiston.

Blue Mountain Community College is partnering with the department so that the data will be collected and processed independently, Coulombe said.

In all, 5,000 surveys will be printed, with 3,800 of them going out with water bills that are mailed in phases, said Margaret Saylor, associate vice-president for BMCC Hermiston. The balance will be given to BMCC students and service organizations around town, she said. The completed forms will be electronically processed at the Pendleton campus about the beginning of June.

The first batch may be sent as early as late next week, Saylor said.

Coulombe said the data will help the department get an idea of how to best help the city's 37 neighborhood watch groups.

"We think that's a secret to success to solving crime," Coulombe said.

Doug Smith, crime prevention officer for the Hermiston Police, helps coordinate the neighborhood watch groups. He said the results of the survey will give the department invaluable insight into what it can do better.

"I have a view of crime in Hermiston," he said. "But it would be foolish to think that is the view everyone else has."

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