A series of engagement opportunities reveals a strong alignment around community safety priorities related to homelessness and mental health services. Focus groups with Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC), a community wide online survey and community listening sessions generated the results. The Eugene City Council had an opportunity to review and discuss the findings of the Community Safety Initiative (CSI) engagement process at their May 10 Work Session.
Last year, in response to community concerns and interest around police funding, City Council directed staff to convene engagement sessions with communities of color to get input on changes and/or additions to the Community Safety Initiative that would best respond to the needs of their communities. Given the amount of time since the last round of engagement work on the CSI, the Council was also interested in providing an opportunity for the general public to share their perspectives as well.
Dozens of people participated in the focus groups and listening sessions and over 2,500 responses were received to the online survey.
Key findings include:
- BIPOC focus groups identified different strategies that they felt would better meet the needs of their communities – many of which were supported by community survey participants, including:
- Alternative response options for mental health calls for service and non-criminal incidents;
- Increased capacity for mental health services in the community; and
- An alternative to calling 911 for non-emergency calls for service.
- The highest priority from the survey was addressing the homeless crisis including emergency shelter and services that help people experiencing homelessness move off the streets into more stable housing;
- There was general alignment between top priorities of BIPOC respondents and all respondents;
- Support was expressed for increasing police capacity to answer more calls in less time; and
- Respondents supported youth prevention programs and programs to divert individuals away from the criminal system.
See the full report. The information collected was shared with the City Council at their May 10 work session as part of their larger discussion around potential funding and policy changes. City Council is also scheduled to have a work session focused on the work of the Ad Hoc Committee on Police Policy on May 17.
The CSI was designed to be a systems-wide approach to improve safety, reduce the cycle of crime and improve community members' quality of life. The Initiative was developed to enhance or add services to address the identified unmet needs in the Community Safety System. It includes police, fire, emergency medical services, 911, municipal court, prevention and homeless services, as well as community programs that work together and with city departments. To fund the Initiative, in June 2019, the Eugene City Council passed the Community Safety Payroll Tax Ordinance. While payroll tax revenues are required to be applied towards community safety, there is flexibility within the City code to meet changing needs by reallocating resources within the Community Safety Initiative. The CSI was designed to change and adapt over time to the needs of the community. Learn more about the Community Safety Initiative.