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Draft Recommendation: Improve Community Outreach & Engagement

Presentation to the Task Force

The Community Policing Subcommittee will be presenting these draft recommendations to the Community and Law Enforcement Task for on Monday, December 8, 2014 at 6:00 PM. 

Meeting Agenda and Details

Summary

These recommendations focus on an active plan for developing and enhancing community stakeholder relationships between local law enforcement agencies (LEAs) and the communities they serve, with an emphasis on facilitating and improving community dialogue and interactions.

Establishing and supporting strategic relationships and programs with community-based organizations and stakeholders is central to the community policing philosophy.  These relationships help to build trust between local LEAs and the communities they serve and make for better and more effective policing.

Brief Overview of Process

During its investigative process, the Community Policing subcommittee received several reports from LEAs regarding their current partnerships with community-based organizations. In addition, we reviewed the County’s 2014 A Portrait of Sonoma County disparities report; with a particular emphasis on the five priority areas outlined in the document. We researched existing programs on a local and national level that carry out best practices in community policing activities and philosophy, and reviewed internal and external LEA processes regarding broader community outreach and engagement.

Recommendation

A. Recommends that the SO identify and partner with established CBOs (community based organizations such as: Community Action Partnership of Sonoma County, Restorative Resources, Social Advocated for Youth, North Bay Organizing Projects, Latino Service Providers, Verity, National Alliance of Mental Illness, Los Cien, etc.) to develop community dialogues/town halls that serve to share information of interest to the community, to develop action items, and to report back to the participants and the community. The community partners can serve as a liaison between LEAs and the community and facilitate the process, help with outreach, meeting facilitation, follow-through of action items, and aiding with the reporting back of information.

Rationale:
Community-based organizations work regularly with diverse populations and are aware of the outreach, needs, and work with these populations, and as such are aware of the needs in the community. They also have outreach and facilitation mechanisms available to them. Regular contact with communities, especially disenfranchised communities, will help to build and repair trust, educate residents about activity in their community and how they can become active partners in improving their neighborhoods.

Resources needed:
Law enforcement agencies staff to coordinate community dialogue sessions which can be a collaboration with community-based organization (noted above) and/or County (Health or Human Services) department staff. Requires.5 FTE at law enforcement agencies and contract with outside agency/department. Community-based organizations contract for facilitation of meetings; space fees, either shared or at school sites; law enforcement agencies staffing, data gathering and reporting back information

B. Recommend that SO implement an intentional bilingual outreach campaign modeled after the nationally acclaimed El Protector Program (Metro Nashville Police, CHP, Riverside, Washington State Patrol and other LEAs). The mission of the program is to create an outreach program that strengthens the relationship between the Latino community and the LEA, building collaboration with community stakeholders. The program places special emphasis on people with limited English speaking abilities. In addition, this bilingual/bicultural program provides public education through dialogue with the Latino community, instead of focusing specifically on enforcement measures.

Rationale:
This nationally recognized program has been adopted by LEAs to serve Latino communities. Many of the agencies have found this to be a successful program that meets their community oriented policing goals. The model includes LEOs, partners, and an advisory board; our local SO can use the Latino Advisory Committee in the development and overseeing of this program. Attached: El Protector Program standard operating procedures and related articles.

Resources needed:
Two sworn deputies and one community services officer under a community relations commander; the support of an advisory committee; budget for outreach and programs. Attached El Protector Program Standard Operating Procedures and related articles.

C. Recommend LEAs develop a process for collecting, interpreting, and analyzing public contact data to identify potential disparities in practices that might indicate whether it there’s a difference in impact policing based on a variety of factors (gender, race, age, location, etc.)

Rationale:
Sharing statistics, trends, and real-time information with the public helps to bring a joint problem solving effort and transparency to local problems. Reporting out to community in these areas would help to build transparency and rebuild trust factors throughout the community. Note: CHP has a model that collects and distributes similar data to the public.

Resources needed:
SO has indicated they have acquired a data collection tool. After determining the information required from the public, SO staff will need to extract data of importance to the community and report back.

D. Recommend that LEAs partner with CBOs to conduct biannual community surveys on the level of police services satisfaction, information on interest to the community, and follow up with the community to report back on the results on top identified items and plans to address them. LEAs should work with CBOs to develop the survey, analyze results, and provide feedback to the public. Plans should be developed to address identified areas of need.

Rationale:
It’s important to conduct periodic surveys of the community on satisfaction of LEA services to assess progress and identify areas of need.

Resources needed:
Law enforcement agencies staff works with community-based organizations to develop and distribute survey, and works to analyze results and work on a plan for identified needs. Law enforcement agencies staff and community-based organizations contract/partnership. Note: SSU has data analysis students that can take on this project.

E. Recommend that specific, successful community policing programs and activities performed by LEAs or in partnership with CBOs be recognized as an Upstream Investment and listed on the website, so that the public, LEAs, CBOs and other interested parties can learn about successful LEA programs, partnerships, and activities that produce positive outcomes.

Rationale:
Highlighting successful community policing activities and programs will help to recognize and bring attention to the positive efforts of LEAs and partners. Reference: Upstream Investments; this recommendation would meet the goals of (1) the whole community is engaged in the healthy development of children and (2) all community members are well sheltered, safe, and socially supported.

Resources needed:
Training SO staff on Upstream Investments and how to identifying and submit applications to the program.

F. Recommend that LEAs increase the duration of beat assignments to allow for a better connection between the LEO and the assigned community.

Rationale:
LEOs who spend a significant amount of time within an assigned community are able to connect and engage with residents.

Resources needed:
No resources needed; bid assignment policy change.

G. Recommend that LEA develop an effective transition plan to pass on local knowledge and connections when transferring LEOs between beat assignments.

Rationale:
There is value to transitioning important information and introducing new officers to meet the residents and learning about their new area from the previous officer.

Resources needed:
Extended time, about a week, for two officers on a beat to transition necessary information from previous to new officer.

H. Recommend that LEO increase their foot and bike patrol time in neighborhoods, especially in the five affected neighborhoods identified in the Portrait of Sonoma.

Rationale:
The community would be better served by patrol officers being more accessible in neighborhoods, walking or bike riding, when possible. The communities identified in Portrait of Sonoma as high need communities are also high crime areas and the neighborhood would benefit from a higher police presence. For example: The Moorland Neighborhood Action Plan revealed the residents of the neighborhood listed an increased police presence in their neighborhood as one of the highest priorities. Other similar communities may want the same police presence. Reference: Moorland Neighborhood Action Plan and Portrait of Sonoma.

Resources needed:
Purchase of bicycles and related safety equipment.

I. Recommend that LEA consider assigning bilingual/bicultural LEOs where appropriate and provide bilingual services when needed.

Rationale:
In order to adequately serve the community, bilingual needs should be considered when assigning officers to ‘beats.’

Resources needed:
Hiring of more bilingual officers to accommodate needs of monolingual community.

Timeline/implementation recommendation

Pending.

Performance indicator(s)

Pending.

Additional considerations/alternatives explored

Pending.

Contact Information

Business Hours
Monday – Friday
8:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Address
Sonoma County Administration Building
575 Administration Drive
Room 104A
Santa Rosa, CA 95403