Community engagement is a key part of every police chief search. It’s a necessary tool used to understand a community’s needs and priorities. But engagement for engagement’s sake is not the goal. In order for it to be an effective use of a community’s time and resources, engagement must be thoughtfully planned and executed. A community that takes the time to play a part in a police chief search deserves to be respected and heard.
Public Sector Search offers multiple strategies as part of the overall search process.
Our community engagement strategy includes the following components:
- Community Forums offer an opportunity for residents to share their thoughts on the characteristics and attributes expected from their next police chief. PSSC facilitates multiple forums per search.
- Community Focus Group Meetings consist of a small group of internal and external stakeholders that add even more valuable information to the search. Participants could include city officials who interact with the police department, community partners, advocacy groups, NAACP, Urban League, LGBTQ leaders, faith community leaders, neighborhood and business leaders, and disability, homeless and mental health advocates. Depending on the municipality, other groups might also take part. These groups provide an even more refined community perspective that is considered throughout the process.
- Online Department Survey — PSSC develops and hosts a customized online survey to provide police department employees with an opportunity to participate in the search process.
- Community Survey — PSSC develops and hosts a customized online survey to provide another avenue of community participation in the search and selection process.
There are two important skills necessary to maximize the effectiveness of a community forum as a tool in a police chief search. First is effective planning and execution. Second is analyzing the data collected. PSSC has years of experience taking the insights gained from these meetings and surveys and applying them to a search.
Police chief candidates must be the best fit for both the department and the community being served. We’ve found that the best, perhaps only, way to know a community’s needs and priorities is just to ask.