How the communications division strives to bridge the gap between Austin police and the community
In 2021, OPO’s communications and community engagement division:
- Hosted five community events to gather feedback from community members and document their lived experiences
- Attended 41 community events to connect with community members
- Provided educational presentations at 20 community meetings
- Received more than 68,000 website views
Our community engagement strategy
How we engaged diverse populations across Austin
The Office of Police Oversight’s communications and community engagement team uses a framework that prioritizes consultation and collaboration with the community while providing education on resources and services. Our community engagement team centers our work around listening to community members’ feedback and encourages them to work alongside our office to create change and deepen understanding.
In 2021, OPO engaged community members to discuss topics such as:
- How to file a complaint or compliment
- Feedback on APD’s current policy manual
- The unique experiences people with disabilities have when interacting with APD
Image 4: OPO's community engagement strategy in 2021
Transparency at the heart of our work
OPO’s communications and community engagement team leverages traditional and digital media to promote our work to the community.
Collaborating with the community
Our framework in action: Collaborating with the community to reform APD use-of-force policies
In May 2021, the Office of Police Oversight (OPO) asked community members what they thought about six of the Austin Police Department’s (APD) use-of-force policies. Specifically, how they should (or shouldn’t) apply to local communities and if they should change. OPO’s goal was to develop policy recommendations and solutions for a safer Austin with community feedback.
OPO created a survey and a virtual event series to get community feedback on six policy areas. Learn more about the initial report here (link to policy section). The survey and virtual sessions were multilingual: English, Spanish, and American Sign Language. During the virtual event series, OPO presented the six policies and provided a space for the community to give real-time feedback.
Altogether, community members submitted more than 1,400 surveys with more than 2,200 comments. After synthesizing these responses, OPO integrated them into the final policy recommendations published in this report.open_in_new
Centering community members
Prioritizing accessibility in our work
In 2021, OPO developed a plan to engage community members to learn more about the experiences of people living with disabilities and their interactions with law enforcement. On May 21, 2021, in collaboration with the Mayor’s Committee for People with Disabilities, the Mayor’s Office, and the Equity Office, OPO hosted the Town Hall on Public Safety: People with Disabilities and Policing. The event was the product of collaboration with several community partners who provided expert consultation to ensure accessibility and inclusivity.
The event was held virtually and offered closed captioning and interpretation in American Sign Language, Spanish, and Vietnamese. Forty-two community members participated, including individuals with lived experiences, care providers, and community members who wanted to listen and learn. Notetakers at the event recorded responses and feedback shared by community members. After conducting a data synthesis on this feedback, OPO published a community feedback reportopen_in_new including key findings and next steps.
Making accessibility and language access a pivotal component of our workflow
Listening to community feedback has allowed us to learn from individuals with lived experience who were able to shed light on the importance of accessibility and language access. Our office has learned from the public and has been committed to making these factors a non-negotiable element in our work, including but not limited to social media, reports, events (virtual and in-person), and website content. Our office participated in multiple professional training seminars to learn more about best practices to improve accessibility in our marketing and communications materials.
In addition to attending training, language access is implemented into our workflow. By translating our materials into Spanish and other languages, we ensure that community members can access our information without sacrificing the convenience of the overall experience of using our website.