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How They Doing? NYPD's Use Of 'Sentiment Meter' On Social Media Reveals Public's Trust Level

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The NYPD has a new tool for making sure city residents feel safe.

CBS2's Marcia Kramer got the details from Commissioner James O'Neill, himself, on Monday.

Your latest crime-fighting weapon is none other than your cellphone. The Police Department is now operating something called a "sentiment meter," asking New Yorkers if they trust cops and whether they feel safe in their neighborhood.

"This is a huge issue here," O'Neill told Kramer exclusively. "We can lay out all the crime numbers that we want, but unless people feel safe, we're not doing our job entirely."

Explosion Near Port Authority
New York City Police Commissioner James O'Neill speaks during a press briefing outside the New York Port Authority Bus Terminal, December 11, 2017. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Using social media -- Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google search -- a company hired by the department gets up to 7,500 New Yorkers a month, from every borough, every precinct, every sector, to answer several questions.

Such as:

How safe do you feel in your neighborhood?

Do the cops in my neighborhood treat local residents with respect?

Do the police in my neighborhood listen, take into account the concerns of local residents?

"If you don't feel safe in your neighborhood let's figure out why. Maybe it is a quality-of-life condition that isn't being addressed. Maybe it's abandoned vehicles. Maybe there are other issues going on. Maybe there's a robbery pattern," O'Neill said.

CBS2 obtained sentiment meter findings, which show that in September 2016 6.1 of every 10 New Yorkers said they trust the cops. It went up to 6.5 in January 2018, but fell to 6.0 in May 2018 after the police-involved shooting of Sahid Vassel. That's the case in which cops mistook a metal pipe for a gun.

Trust is currently at 6.6.

The number of New Yorkers who feel safe has often reached 6.8 since September 2016, but it has been down the last three months, including 6.3 in August.

Commissioner O'Neill told Kramer that decrease could be related to the increase in innocent bystanders shot.

When asked to rank trust of the police on a scale of 1 to 10, Upper West Side resident Edwin Jorge said, "Man, oh, 2% maybe." When asked how come, Jorge replied, "It's New York City."

Added Kevin McDonough, "I trust them. I guess it's somewhere between an 8 and a 10."

"Six," said Nazivyah Hargrove of Spring Creek, Brooklyn. "With people of color there's a little, you know, there's something going on. They don't trust us as much. They don't give us as much credit that we're doing the right thing."

O'Neill told Kramer the information will prove invaluable to precinct commanders who can tailor outreach and manpower to each individual sector.

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