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Final Report of Cognitive Testing of the 2011 Public Police Contact Survey Questionnaire

Theresa DeMaio, Rachel Freidus and Katherine Drom


cognitive interviews, pretesting, traffic tickets, street stops


At the request of the Bureau of Justice Statistics and the Demographic Surveys Division, staff from the Center for Survey Measurement cognitively pretested the questionnaire for the 2011 Public Police Contact Survey.

Results of 29 cognitive interviews conducted in January and February, 2011, include the following: 1) respondents who experienced multiple contacts within a single episode of dealing with the police (for example, both a phone contact and a face-to-face contact when reporting a crime) did not distinguish these contacts. They distinguished between episodes (for example, a traffic ticket for speeding and reporting a crime or multiple tickets for speeding) but not between contacts for a single episode. As a result, respondents were not always able to accurately identify their most recent contact with police; 2) respondents who received work orders were unsure as to how to respond to the question about whether or not they had received a ticket; 3) respondents had difficulty reporting whether they argued with the police officer or complained to the police officer during their police contacts; and 4) the many questions asked of respondents who reported voluntary contacts with the police were confusing and caused respondents to think they should be answering about another, more relevant, contact.


Theresa DeMaio, Rachel Freidus and Katherine Drom. (2011). Final Report of Cognitive Testing of the 2011 Public Police Contact Survey Questionnaire. Center for Survey Measurement, Research and Methodology Directorate (Survey Methodology #2011-05). U.S. Census Bureau. Available online at <>.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Center for Statistical Research & Methodology

Published online: August 9, 2011
Last revised: August 9, 2011


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Source: U.S. Census Bureau | Center for Statistical Research & Methodology | (301) 763-3215 (or |   Last Revised: September 11, 2013