Community Relations Officers Who Enforce the Law

by the City of Decatur, GA for the TLG 2019 Innovation Showcase program

Dec 19, 2018

Theme: Authentic Community Relations

The Decatur Police Department began to formulate a strategic plan in the early part of 2015. The department was faced with several issues that gained media attention. A major issue it faced was a perception within the community that the department focused unfairly on minorities within its jurisdiction. In order to address the concerns and needs of the citizens, the department truly opened itself up to the public and asked for their input. The department decided to undertake the daunting task of creating a three-year strategic plan in order to guide the future movement of the department. Focus groups were created within the community that targeted specific stakeholders within it. Between March and September 2015, 24 different focus groups met and gave input. The focus group were comprised of all sorts of community members, Decatur Housing Authority Residents, elderly, youth, city employees, Business owners, Decatur Senior Leadership team and various stakeholders within the community.

The focus groups gave insight on what they felt they liked and disliked about the police department that served them. They were able to provide valuable feedback about concerns that truly worried them and what they both needed and wanted from their police department in the future. Once all of the focus groups met, all of their thoughts were put together. Reoccurring themes (action items) in each group were prioritized and placed into the plan. The plan categorized these action items as high, medium, and low priority as well as what could be done fastest to what took more time. The department never had a plan like this to follow before. It was like being given the answers to the test. The community told us exactly what they wanted, we just had to make it happen.

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