Decision Points for Jurisdictions
Engage the Community

Reimagining public safety must be centered on community values, needs, and goals. Jurisdictions must take the time to understand residents’ public safety priorities and concerns of the community. Jurisdictions must also be open and transparent about plans to incorporate the community in the design process, including what the role of the community will be on an ongoing basis. Even the best of intentions can go astray if programs are designed without consulting the people who will be affected by them most.

Engage the public in program design early and continuously. Any approach to reimagining must be built on a foundation of early and ongoing community engagement, especially with communities most impacted by policing and whose lived experiences can inform strategies for improving safety and trust. Jurisdictions might begin by identifying official and unofficial leaders, organizations, and entities that represent residents’ experiences and work with them collaboratively to design a public plan for community involvement. Jurisdictions have utilized a variety of community engagement strategies that offer useful models to draw upon. Several important questions to consider:

  • How will your jurisdiction solicit and act upon community guidance, both initially and ongoingly?
  • What structures will be put in place to ensure transparency and community buy-in in the implementation and operation of new models?
  • How will your jurisdiction ensure that advisory boards, oversight committees, or other governance structures are demographically and culturally reflective of the communities they serve?
  • Will residents who participate in providing input and/or oversight be compensated for their time?

Message new models to the public. ‍Messaging cannot be an afterthought. It is essential to program success from the get-go. Before a program launches, have a clear strategy for communicating its goals, design, and means of access so that public expectations are aligned with program function. Are there credible messengers or entities in your jurisdiction that can be tapped to promote new alternatives? Have you undertaken similar public messaging campaigns in the past that you can draw on for inspiration? Can social and other new media be utilized to reach a wider range of residents? Consider these questions carefully and be sure that your message is especially well-targeted toward residents most likely to utilize new services.

Related Reading

Talking With Communities

Community Advisory Boards: What Works and What Doesn’t