Initial results of community engagement | AustinTexas.gov
The first phase of Public Safety Reinvention (PSR) Conversations between the community and city leaders ended on January 31, 2021. These conversations were initiated in September 2020 to help inform decisions by city leaders. the city on public security reform. Community members were invited to submit their comments via one of the many online and call entry options, including:
- RPS listening session for a
- Austin 3-1-1 Reimagining the Public Safety Feedback Line
- RPS Discussion Forum on SpeakUp Austin
- Small RPS survey on SpeakUp Austin
In addition, community members and organizations were invited to conduct scenario-based virtual community conversations with their members, neighbors or friends or participate in a session hosted by city leaders. During these sessions, participants discussed a series of sample scenarios, such as people arguing in an upstairs apartment, and submitted their responses to questions about the types of public safety resources that are available. ‘they would like to have in every type of situation.
MEASURES ON RPS COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT TO DATE
Almost 1,000 people participated in an RPS community conversation and / or submitted their comments through one of the other entry options. Participants in the entire process came from various districts and postal codes and represented a wide range of ages, genders, races and ethnic groups.
Each of Austin’s ten council districts hosted a community conversation, as well as three city-wide sessions (one entirely in Spanish) and dozens of sessions hosted by a wide range of community organizations and neighborhood associations across the city.
Some of the community partners who participated in these conversations included Austin Justice Coalition, Austin Voices, Caritas, Integral Care, Maternal Health Equity Collaborative, the International Association of South Asian Volunteers, and YWCA Greater Austin. City communications staff helped facilitate many of these conversations and provided technical and other support essential to making these sessions a success.
GENERAL THEMES: WHAT WE HAVE HEARD SO FAR
Participants gave a wide range of feedback on how they want public safety resources to appear in their community and how to make public safety work for Austin. This has ranged from people who rely on law enforcement officials as the primary gatekeepers of public safety to people who believe the police threaten the safety of individuals and communities in Austin.
For example, in the brief RPS survey on SpeakUp Austin, just under half of respondents rated their overall public safety experience in Austin as “Excellent” or “Good,” while over 50% said their experience with public safety in Austin was “Excellent” or “Good”. experience was fair, poor, or mixed. live.
Participants often described how their personal experiences with public safety resources such as law enforcement or those of friends and family shaped their perspective. Many people recognized that people’s sense of security in certain situations or the perceived need for police involvement can vary widely depending on race, gender, and other personal circumstances, such as being identified as transgender.
Some of the other key themes we heard included:
One-size-fits-all approaches don’t work – Whether people want law enforcement involved depends on the context of the situation. Participants said they are more likely to want a police officer to intervene if the situation is violent. However, many people do not know how to tell if a situation is or will become violent. In general, people who said they would not call the police said they were concerned that calling the police might make the situation worse or generally do more harm than good.
There is a considerable lack of trust in many parts of the community – from the police, the government, neighbors and each other in general.
Lack of knowledge of existing resources – The City must do more to make the community aware of the public safety resources currently available.
People want a wider range of public safety resources – Many participants want additional resources to deal with situations that affect public safety, including prevention programs, specialized responders and policies. People also said resources were needed to help all parties to an incident, including victims, perpetrators, bystanders, police and other first responders. Some examples of public safety resources that participants would like to see included:
- Increases mental health resources, including accessible and affordable advice to prevent violent situations, as well as mental health specialists to respond to relevant situations on their own or accompany a police officer
- Equipping people to deal with problems themselves at community level, such as through neighborhood watch groups and providing resources to neighbors in need
- Greater availability of victim services, such as funds for victims of property crimes to replace stolen items and temporary housing for people who need to flee situations of violence, as well as to give people experiencing domestic violence a voice in what is happening. they need
- Free roadside assistance throughout the city and in areas other than highways
- Change the insurance claims process, so people don’t have to call the police to get a theft or auto accident incident report to make an insurance claim
- After youth services, like affordable extracurricular activities and childcare options
- Substance abuse rehabilitation resources since participants said that drugs are not just a criminal justice issue
- Better support for 3-1-1 or another direct line, so that they are better equipped to handle calls alongside 911 dispatchers who could sort the calls and send the most efficient / relevant resources for a particular situation
A paradigm shift may be necessary. Some participants said that we need major changes in the city’s systems, values and culture, but others said they think all is well as it is. Among participants who expressed the need for a significant change, examples of suggestions that they believe could help improve public safety include:
- Take a more proactive approach to keep people out of trouble and to fix problems before they reach the level of police need. Some of the underlying circumstances that participants mentioned that they would like to see addressed as a way to reduce crime included many economic stressors, such as lack of basic needs like stable housing, food security, reliable transport and employment.
- Improve law enforcement training to include more education on de-escalation, implicit bias and cultural sensitivity
- Divide the police into divisions, where the police would not be armed in most divisions, and give officers specific training for certain types of situations, such as domestic violence, traffic stops, burglaries, etc.
- Demanding the police to regularly follow advice to help them avoid the scars of the trauma they suffer at work during their next interaction with members of the community or even in their own home and personal life
RPS COMMUNITY FEEDBACK DASHBOARD
At the heart of the engagement process was an in-depth ‘listening sessions’ survey tool. The tool, developed by innovation officer Kerry O’Connor and Alba Sereno, city resilience officer, was designed to promote reflection and discussion around several scenarios that may involve a response from the forces of the city. ‘order.
Each scenario posed several questions, including: How would participants react in a situation, do participants want the police to be involved, what resources are needed to address the problem at the center of the scenario, and how could participants reinvent a situation. reply?
Over 30,000 pieces of data were collected from the listening session survey responses. The Office of Innovation performed data analysis to identify key themes and patterns in responses and developed an interactive PSR feedback dashboard. With this tool, you will be able to sift through the summaries and analysis of participant comments on each of the sample scenarios.
Click here to access the RPS Community Conversation Feedback Dashboard