Survey finds low public trust in local officials, higher trust in first responders

The Rave Mobile Safety report also includes data about trust in COVID-19 information and willingness to share information with 911

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Photo/Dave Lowe, Unsplash

By Laura French

FRAMINGHAM, Mass. — A report published by public safety communications company Rave Mobile Safety found a general lack of public trust in information shared by local government officials, but a relatively higher level of trust in first responders.

The report released Thursday compiles the results of a survey of more than 1,000 American adults conducted by Rave Mobile Safety and Researchscape in late 2020 and early 2021, according to a Rave Mobile Safety press release. The survey found that only 22% of respondents said they completely trust the information they receive from local officials.

First responders were considered more trustworthy by survey respondents, with 62% saying they completely trust the information they receive from firefighters and 59% saying they completely trust information from EMTs and paramedics. Public trust in police officers was lower than in firefighters and EMS providers, but higher than in local officials in general, with 33% of respondents saying they completely trusted information from police.

The survey also included questions about the participants’ confidence in the ability of their state to successfully distribute the COVID-19 vaccine. Only 37% of respondents said they were completely confident or very confident in their state’s vaccine distribution plan, and 75% said they have some level of confusion about their priority level for the vaccine in their state.

Additionally, only 31% of respondents said they completely trust updates from local officials about COVID-19, with 57% saying they don’t trust the facts local officials use to make their recommendations, 54% saying recommendations change too frequently and 44% saying they believe local officials exaggerate the severity of the pandemic.

Text and phone alerts were among the most trusted sources of information from local officials, with 77% of respondents saying they completely trust or somewhat trust direct mobile alerts. In addition, 34% said their level of trust would increase if they could choose how to receive updates, for example, through text, email or phone call.

Respondents were overwhelmingly willing to provide personal data that would aid 911 response, with more than 85% saying they are very or somewhat willing to provide information like medical history and their address to aid first responders in emergencies.