Getting survey calls is one thing, but receiving one after dialing 911 can be a little unnerving.
“I don't call 911 so they can take my information to do a survey,” said Julia Sheriden.
The call actually came from a survey company asking how the Seattle Police Department performed during her recent 911 call.
Sgt. Sean Whitcomb says the Seattle Police Department is paying a University of Washington professor to do a study on its officer’s responses to 911 calls.
“This is an easy way for people to help us out. It’s not compulsory, no one has to participate. The person who got the call could have hung up,” said Whitcomb.
See, Ms. Sheriden fully understands public service. She served in the Marines and runs the group OARS - Outreach and Resource Services for Women Veterans. That work earned her the 2013 Jefferson Award for community and public volunteerism.
Julia gets that the police may need the information, but she never agreed to have it given to a third party.
“If you are willing to put yourself out there for your community to do a job, so you do that. But that doesn't mean the police department that you call for an emergency can turn around and give some contracted company permission to find out about you,” she said.
Whitcomb says participants’ personal information is not releasable. He also adds that calls for domestic abuse, sexual abuse and crimes involving children are excluded from the survey.
After my interview with Whitcomb, I received a call from Jerry Carter from Consumer Opinion Services. It's the company that makes the calls for the study. Carter told me it doesn't perform background checks for its workers in this study, and it hasn't for years.
Sgt. Whitcomb from Seattle Police said those conducting the survey only have names and phone numbers of the people they call. He added that it is industry standard that those workers are not subject to backgound checks.
In the meantime, if you are contacted for the survey, you can participate if you wish. If not, just say no and they won't call you back.