Crime and violence in urban communities are complex issues with multifarious underlying causes. Disparities in education, income, and health hit urban communities hard, particularly African American communities, which are disproportionately affected by violent crime. As such, any solution to these vexing problems must encompass more than law enforcement strategies. Community-oriented policing should be combined with interventions that prioritize individuals’ stability, such as mental health and substance abuse services, housing assistance, and support for victims and suspects of crime. To bring crime statistics down, cities must cultivate strong community relations and put in place programs that create an enhanced safety net for high-risk populations.
In Washington, District of Columbia, the new Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement is designed to bring non-law enforcement resources and strategies together to promote sustainable change. As a city that exists independent of state or county, the District is unique in maintaining oversight over all of the functions that are usually administered at the county or state level. As such, the City Administrator has authority to shape full-surround intervention to address crime and violence in the District’s communities by appropriating funds according to a comprehensive, targeted plan. Measuring the results helps identify evidence-based best practices that other cities can use to create effective strategies and justify their implementation to county administrators. Washington, D.C., then, is well positioned to be a leader in this space and has accordingly set the goal of creating the Safer, Stronger Cities Pilot Program—a network of cities that will supplement traditional law enforcement with strategies of non-violent intervention, strong government-community relations, and a focus on high risk populations. Through examining data, exchanging ideas, establishing best practices, and creating a common framework for community-oriented violent-crime reduction, these cities can demonstrate that such interventions can be effective in reducing violent crime in urban communities across the country.
To support this work, the City will partner with FUSE Corps to host an executive-level fellow for one year who will help establish a methodology for creating an evidenced-base case for the work being done in the District; establish a working model for collaboration among cities that are committed to community-oriented crime-reduction work and interested in establishing a framework of best practices; and institute a plan to attract resources to fund these activities in participating cities.
Project Summary & Potential Deliverables
The following provides a general overview of the proposed fellowship project. This project summary and the potential deliverables that follow will be collaboratively revisited by the host agency, the fellow, and FUSE staff during the first few months of the fellowship, after which a revised scope of work will be developed and agreed upon by the FUSE Fellow and the host agency.
Starting in September 2018, it is proposed the FUSE Fellow will establish three elements of the Safer, Stronger Cities Pilot Program: an evaluation methodology, the participants and operations of a network of participating cities, and a prospectus of philanthropic resources those cities can tap for support. The fellow will be instrumental in laying the foundation of the groundbreaking process of changing how cities approach the reduction of violent crime.
Success in this project will be evaluated in terms of the fellow’s ability to work with a range of stakeholders, establish functional methodologies, and identify funding streams. The successful fellow will work with data scientists and social scientists to design suitable methodologies for evaluating citywide data. He or she will consult with cross-sector representatives including a range of city officials and outside organizations such as National Forum for Black Public Administrators, National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, and International City/County Management Association, resulting in a clear plan for establishing effective collaboration among participating city administrators. The fellowship should also produce a comprehensive understanding of funding available to support cities participating in the program.
The fellow should be familiar with the complex dynamics of urban governments, experienced in interpreting data and establishing evaluation methodologies, and knowledgeable about tapping philanthropic resources. The fellow will be a cross-sector collaborator and strategic thinker who is effective at mapping out how to bring diverse constituencies together on complex issues with the assurance of a productive outcome.
- Establish an evaluation methodology: Working with the District’s data and social scientists, create an evaluation procedure for interventions being done by the District of Columbia’s Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement. Focus on creating an evidence-based case for improving police-community relations in urban communities around the country.
- Plan the network’s participants and operations: Collaborating with a range of partner organizations, assess which U.S. cities are the best candidates to participate and then create a procedure for these cities to follow in working jointly toward the creation of an evidence-based, best-practices framework that can be applied with success in any urban area.
- Identify financial resources: Seek out tangible opportunities for philanthropic support for establishing the evidence-based framework in participating cities and create a prospectus to guide cities in acquiring funding so as to fully engage in and benefit from the Safer, Stronger Cities Pilot Program.
- Rashad Young, City Administrator, District of Columbia
- Arlen Herrell, Communications and External Affairs Manager, District of Columbia Mayor’s Office
- At least 15 years of professional experience in a relevant field, particularly with a strong background in strategic planning and/or project management. Experience in a city government agency or the social service sector would be a plus, particularly in community outreach or community policing.
- Superior critical thinking and analytical skills.
- Ability to synthesize complex information into clear and concise recommendations.
- Ability to relate to a wide variety of diverse audiences with strong emotional intelligence and empathy.
- Excellent stakeholder engagement skills and the ability to use facilitative leadership techniques to coordinate stakeholder activities.
- Self-motivated, goal-oriented, entrepreneurial leader who can also be an independent worker.
- Persistent in obtaining information and creatively resourceful in identifying solutions to complex problems.
- Ability to create direction and movement within potentially ambiguous
- Exceptional written and verbal communication skills with an ease in public presentations.
- Understands the need for solutions to support all people in a community regardless of race, religion, gender, immigration status, or ethnicity.