Diversifying Emergency Response Strategies

August 8, 2022

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FUSE Corps

The City of Evanston, IL is pioneering a multi-pronged, systems-level approach to advancing equity in their community. Their newly established Reimagining Public Safety Committee is working to proactively build a new public safety strategy rooted in true prevention, accountability, and restoring community wellbeing. The FUSE Executive Fellow will help organize, coordinate support for, and operationalize meaningful community engagement to inform a new, comprehensive plan for public safety.

Fellowship Dates: October 24, 2022 – October 23, 2023

ABOUT THE FUSE EXECUTIVE FELLOWSHIP

FUSE Corps is a national nonprofit working to expand social and economic opportunities, particularly for communities that have been limited by a history of systemic and institutionalized racism. FUSE partners with local governments and communities to more effectively address pressing challenges by placing experienced professionals within city and county agencies. These FUSE Executive Fellows lead strategic projects designed to advance racial equity and accelerate systems change. Since 2012, FUSE has led over 250 projects in 40 governments across 20 states, impacting the lives of 25 million people.

When designing each fellowship project, FUSE works closely with government partners and local stakeholders to define a scope of work that will achieve substantive progress toward regional priorities. FUSE then conducts an individualized search for each project to ensure that the selected candidate has at least 15 years of professional experience, the required competencies for the role, and deep connections to the communities being served. They are data-driven and results-oriented and able to effectively manage complex projects by developing actionable roadmaps and monitoring progress to completion.

Executive Fellows are hired as FUSE employees and embedded in government agencies for at least one year of full-time work. Throughout their fellowships, they receive training, coaching, and professional support from FUSE to help achieve their project goals. FUSE Executive Fellows bring diverse perspectives and new approaches to their projects. They build strong relationships with diverse arrays of stakeholders, foster alignment within and across various layers of government, and build partnerships between governments and communities.

PROJECT CONTEXT

The City of Evanston, IL is pioneering a multi-pronged, systems-level approach to advancing equity in their community. Its City Council was one of the first in America to unanimously vote to adopt a resolution committing to end structural racism and achieve racial equity. Today, they are working to fulfill that commitment through improving the relationship between the city and its residents by establishing policies and priorities that are informed by inclusive, strategic community engagement. For example, in 2019, the City Council established a $10 million reparations fund to support initiatives addressing historical wealth and opportunity gaps for Black residents. The program was the first of its kind in the U.S. and is seen by advocates as a national model.

With policing and public safety reform issues in the national spotlight these past two years, Evanston’s leaders were galvanized to engage residents on how to improve their own internal processes. In May 2021, the Evanston Mayor’s Office created the Reimagining Public Safety Committee, an ad-hoc committee tasked with analyzing Evanston Police Department’s relationship with the city, external accountability, and crime reduction tactics in order to present community-informed recommendations for improvement in the next budget year. The committee is now working to build an approach to public safety that is grounded in preventing the root issues that lead to crime, focusing enforcement on serious rather than low-level crime, and restoring community wellbeing. The next step is to help build stakeholder support and incorporate meaningful community input into the strategic plan design process.

Evanston will partner with FUSE Corps to help organize, coordinate support for, and operationalize meaningful community engagement to design and implement public safety strategies. The FUSE Executive Fellow will act as a liaison between city departments, community stakeholders, and the task force, examine the public safety and wellness needs of residents and communities, educate residents on the goals of the work, and provide the city with recommendations to enhance ongoing community engagement. This work will help build community trust and system legitimacy for the reimagined public safety strategy, supporting Evanston in reaching their goal of operationalizing government policies and practices that are responsive to residents needs while supporting racial equity.

PROJECT SUMMARY & POTENTIAL DELIVERABLES

The following provides a general overview of the proposed fellowship project. This project summary and the potential deliverables will be collaboratively revisited by the host agency, the fellow, and FUSE staff during the first few months of the fellowship.

Beginning in October 2022, the FUSE Executive Fellow will work with city staff, including law enforcement, community stakeholders, the Law Enforcement Action Partnership (LEAP), and the Reimagining Public Safety Committee to help the city incorporate meaningful community feedback into new public safety efforts, including the expansion of an alternative public safety program that utilizes trained civilian responders to handle low level 911 calls for service. This community engagement process will work to resolve tensions between groups, ensure public safety is deeply rooted in racial equity, and ultimately improve public trust.

The Executive Fellow will begin by collaborating with LEAP to build an understanding of the Evanston community and current community engagement practices. The review will focus on understanding who has been involved in the public safety reform conversation thus far, what barriers to engagement others have faced, and identifying any disconnects between the community and decision-makers. The Executive Fellow should be highly cognizant of any historical inequities or exclusions that have been perpetuated against the community.

The Executive Fellow will then design a meaningful, authentic community engagement and input process to formulate policy recommendations, such as expanding the civilian 911 response program, that can be submitted to city council. The Executive Fellow will take the lead in establishing and maintaining relationships with community groups and individuals as well as arranging and facilitating community meetings and surveys. The Executive Fellow will create processes for engaging community members in spaces they already frequent (e.g., barbershops, faith-based institutions) and determine the ways to best organize conversations and capture feedback moving forward. The Executive Fellow will quickly build deep relationships with leaders in the community to facilitate constructive conversations and ease potential tensions between the task force and broader community as they arise. The Executive Fellow will also ensure that the design work builds upon the existing Evanston landscape and infrastructure. In partnership with LEAP, the Executive Fellow will build relationships and connections within the law enforcement community to ensure their involvement and input during these conversations.

The Executive Fellow will work to form the narrative around the importance of improving police-community trust, addressing root causes of crime, and involving the community in these developments. This will include outlining what “success” will look like through researching effective programs, policy, and models from across the nation that could be piloted in the city. These examples will provide community stakeholders with a deeper understanding of areas of reform and ensure that any program design builds upon the foundation of existing resources, organizations, and programs – spurring meaningful conversations to support move forward with change.

By October 2023, the Executive Fellow will have overseen the following:

  • Conduct a thorough review of the current landscape – Research city history; examine existing public safety policies with an emphasis on the perspective of advancing equity for historically underserved residents; review current community engagement practices; identify barriers to participation and any groups of residents that have not participated in the process thus far; research national public safety reform legislation, models, and programs, assessing their local applicability
  • Design and implement a meaningful community engagement strategy- Facilitate focus groups, round tables, listening tours, constructive community conversations, and other mediums of outreach to engage the community and gather information; solicit and incorporate input from stakeholders to build consensus; facilitate ongoing community participation; educate residents on existing safety and wellness resources; and build new and strengthen existing lines of communication between stakeholders with an emphasis on including law enforcement in the conversation
  • Work alongside the Reimagining Public Safety Task Force – examine public safety and wellness needs of residents and community, providing recommendations for the design of public safety programs and policies; act as a liaison between city departments, the Task Force, and the community to organize, coordinate, and operationalize those policy and programs ensuring they are grounded in data and responsive to community needs

KEY STAKEHOLDERS

  • Executive Sponsor – Mayor Daniel Biss, City of Evanston, IL
  • Project Supervisor – Alison Leipsiger, Policy Coordinator, City Manager’s Office

QUALIFICATIONS

In addition to the qualifications listed below, a background in public safety, community engagement, and/or criminal justice reform is strongly preferred for this project.

  • Synthesizes complex information into clear and concise recommendations and action-oriented implementation plans.
  • Develops and effectively implements both strategic and operational project management plans.
  • Generates innovative, data-driven, and result-oriented solutions to difficult challenges.
  • Responds quickly to changing ideas, responsibilities, expectations, trends, strategies, and other processes.
  • Communicates effectively both verbally and in writing and excels in both active listening and conversing.
  • Fosters collaboration across multiple constituencies in order to support more effective decision making.
  • Establishes and maintains strong relationships with a diverse array of stakeholders, both inside and outside of government, and particularly including community-based relationships.
  • Embraces differing viewpoints and implements strategies to find common ground.
  • Demonstrates confidence and professional diplomacy, while effectively interacting with individuals at all levels of various organizations.

FUSE Corps is an equal opportunity employer with core values of diversity, equity, and inclusion. We encourage candidates from all backgrounds to apply for this position.

FUSE Corps is an equal opportunity employer with a core value of incorporating diverse perspectives into our work at every level. We encourage candidates from all backgrounds to apply for this position.