Cape Coral Police Department Community Engagement Forum
Community Forum HIGHLIGHTS
Community Engagement Forum Tarpon Point Marina Saturday, March 5, 2011 8:30 am — 1:00 pm Community Engagement Final Report City Council Chambers Thursday, March 10, 2011 6:30 pm — 8:30 pm
TABLE OF CONTENTS
“The police department is poised to enter a process, a process that will never be completed. This process seeks to identify opportunities, strategies, and programs that will produce short and long-term results in support of achieving the following: To establish a culture that is based on trust, confidence, and credibility, which supports our citizens' needs that are identified through ongoing, open, and candid discussion of our shared goal of providing the community with a level of service it desires and is willing to support,” Chief Jay Murphy.
A N N E D A LT O N L O R N A K I B B E Y J I M L A R U E A N N E S C H R O E D E R
Purpose Process Procedures Participant Overview Results and Findings Summary and Conclusions Suggestions Appendix - Forum Questions - Moderator Biographies - Frequently Asked Questions
Community Forum HIGHLIGHTS PURPOSE What is Community Engagement? Community engagement is the process of building relationships within the community and involving them in the decision making process. This partnership is crucial to the successful development of policies and decisions being implemented within the community. Community engagement is an opportunity for communities to contribute solutions by valuing local talents and skills and acknowledging their capacity to be decision makers in their own lives. Community engagement provides an opportunity for the public to collaborate with the Cape Coral Police Department toward identifying needs and developing solutions to improve their quality of life.
What Do We Hope To Accomplish: Objective
The overarching objective is to create awareness in the minds of Cape Coral residents that the Cape Coral Police Department is embarking on a community visioning project because they care about the residents and what they think. The purpose was, has and will continue to be to improve the quality of public safety effectiveness so that the Cape Coral residents may work, play and grow old in a safe community. The purpose of a community engagement plan is to establish a community dialogue with Cape Coral residents and stakeholders to determine opinions concerning the effectiveness of the Cape Coral Police Department. This community dialogue will be used to determine a vision for the Cape Coral Police Department and will utilize small group discussion and a public forum as a means of interacting with local residents.
Community Forum HIGHLIGHTS
PROCESS The John Scott Dailey Florida Institute of Government at Florida Gulf Coast University In December 2010, the Florida Institute of Government at Florida Gulf Coast University was contacted to collaborate on a community forum project along with the Cape Coral Police Department. The Florida Institute of Government was chosen for its history and success in assisting local government agencies with program evaluations, as well as leadership and management training. In addition, the Florida Institute of Government was able to bring together the human capital necessary for project success in the form of moderators and project manager.
SELECTION & REGISTRATION
Planning Process and Resident Selection Criteria Early in the planning process it was decided that participants in the community engagement forum could only be residents or business owners in Cape Coral. In addition, representing all community demographics was considered a top priority for the selection criteria. Small group discussion was chosen as the method of gathering opinions due to the willingness people typically have when in groups of 15 or less. Since forthright conversation was the goal, registration was capped at 80 individuals whether they be residents or Cape Coral business owners. In order to participate registration was required either by going to an online registration website or picking up a paper form at the Cape Coral Police Department. Registration questions included requesting name, address, age, gender, and race. These demographics were only selected to get a purposeful sample of the community. However, since the registration cap was not exceeded everyone that registered in advance was invited to participate. Notifications were sent to residents via email and phone call.
Community Forum HIGHLIGHTS PROCESS
ENGAGING THE COMMUNITY
Press Conference On Wednesday, February 16, 2011 at 10:00 am the Cape Coral Police Department hosted a press conference for Southwest Florida media outlets. All media were invited by emailed press release to participate and at least eight media organizations attended with reporters and/or cameras. During the press conference Chief Murphy “rolled out” a new community engagement plan of which one component was a forum. Residents were invited to attend this event scheduled for March 5, 2011 at the Tarpon Point Marina in Cape Coral and given the details of how to participate. In addition, residents were informed about the department’s revised website (www.capecops.com) which offers social media capabilities such as following the Cape Coral Police Department on Twitter, FaceBook, YouTube and Flickr. Community members were encouraged to “Like” the agency along with their friends and family.
Informing the Public Over an approximately two-week period, Southwest Florida media outlets reported and informed Cape Coral residents of the details concerning a community engagement forum. Media outlets representing print, television, radio and web broadcasted the message. Each major media outlet in Southwest Florida provided residents with information on the forum details on multiple occasions and during many different time slots.
Interviews and daily updates were given to reporters who were judiciously following up on changes in registration numbers. In addition, Cape Coral high schools were notified of the forum and asked to inform their student populations.
Community Forum HIGHLIGHTS PROCESS
Community Forum On Saturday, March 5, 2011 beginning at 8:30 am approximately 40 residents and business owners gathered at Tarpon Point Marina in Cape Coral, Florida. Their purpose was to discuss their thoughts, opinions and feelings about the public safety services they receive from the Cape Coral Police Department. This was each residentâ€™s opportunity to express their praise, criticisms and suggestions for improvement. Many residents came to do all the above. The comments of each resident were respectfully recorded and provided an arena for discussion.
Residents and business owners were divided into 4 groups, each being led by a professional moderator. Moderators were chosen for his or her expertise in leading group discussions, not based on their knowledge of public safety in Cape Coral. If participants had specific concerns they were asked to inform their moderator who would communicate this information back to the project manager so a subject matter expert could be consulted. Over a 2-hour period each group discussed their views with the highlights being recorded onto flip charts by the moderator. In addition, each group was audio-recorded for reporting accuracy. Each groupâ€™s moderator led them through a series of 15 questions requesting information ranging from impressions and perceptions to specific ways for improvement. Some of the groups were able to complete all the questions within the 2-hour block, while others were not. However, all the opinions of each participant were treated with respect and diligence. Upon concluding, the moderator led discussions all participants were asked to reconvene, where each moderator gave a synopsis of the key points that were discussed in their session. The meeting concluded after the full group discussion. The flip charts, personal notes, comments submitted online and audio-recordings of the forum were then analyzed for common themes. The final report is a compilation of these themes and quotations from participants.
Community Forum HIGHLIGHTS PROCESS
Final Report The final report was delivered to the Cape Coral Police Department on Thursday, March 10, 2011 in an electronic version. The electronic version was formatted to be downloaded and viewed on the web. The purpose of the final report is to provide a compilation of the opinions, thoughts, feelings and comments that were shared during the forum. The format of the report is to introduce themes and discussions that had commonality throughout the four discussion groups. It is not intended to be an exhaustive report, meaning that not every comment of every participant was included.
Also, the final report does not imply nor claim that all residents of Cape Coral share the exact concerns represented in this document. However, it is intended to serve as a guidepost for evaluating policies, expenses, and modes of business and conduct among officers and administrators.
Presentation of Results On Thursday, March 10, 2011 a reporting of common themes was given in a public meeting located at the Cape Coral City Council Chambers at 6:30 pm. Members who had participated in the forum were also invited to attend as were the moderators who led the discussion groups. There were no registration requirements for attending the final presentation of results. The findings of the forum were presented by project manager Jennifer James-Mesloh, Ph.D. a representative of the John Scott Dailey Florida Institute of Government at Florida Gulf Coast University.
Community Forum HIGHLIGHTS
CAPE CORAL POLICE
PARTICIPANT OVERVIEW Participant Characteristics Once the group discussions were underway people introduced themselves to their group and discussed their ties to the Cape Coral community. Many participants grew up in Cape Coral and attended schools in the community as children. In addition, many of the participants have been long time residents (40+ years) as well as business owners in the community. Some of the participants were more recent residents but all expressed the appreciation to be able to express their opinions in the positive and the negative. When asked why people chose to attend there was a gamut of reasons provided from,
“I came to support the police department”
“I came here to bitch (complain).” Most of the participants strongly supported the idea of increasing the number of community style meetings whether that was in a community forum, town hall meeting, or through polling community, service, civic and faith-based organizations. The commonality throughout the comments was the desire to have more opportunities to share opinions and offer feedback on how public safety services are provided. The desire appeared to be bi-directional with residents claiming they wanted to hear more of what was going on from the police department and they wanted to be heard more.
Community Forum HIGHLIGHTS RESULTS AND FINDINGS Theme: Overall Impression and Image Positive!
The most reoccurring theme throughout the community forum was the professional nature in which Cape Coral police officers conduct themselves. Participants offered praise for officers on a wide range of subjects from their attire and personal appearance to their dedication to the community. Residents appreciated that officers volunteer on their own time and spend their personal money on equipment and training. These comments were supplemented by forum attendees stating officers were patient, brave, proactive and polite. One participant stated an impression of the Cape Coral Police Department as being,
“97% positive and 3% negative.”
Sources for impressions and images of the Cape Coral Police Department were based on personal experiences, second-hand retelling and news reports of local activities. Overall, residents had a favourable impression and image of the officers, the department and the job that was being done. Officers were praised for their willingness to do a job that residents described as dangerous and underpaid.
“They take the job very seriously.” The response time for an officer to arrive at the scene was repeatedly discussed as well as the low crime rate in Cape Coral. Many forum attendees commented they had moved to the community due to the low level of crime.
“They seem to catch a lot of them, these people breaking the law.”
Community Forum HIGHLIGHTS RESULTS AND FINDINGS
Theme: Impression of Officer Characteristics There were many common consistencies throughout the groups about officer characteristics. There consistencies appeared to be similar for those characteristics residents were pleased with and those they suggested improvement on.
Well Done! There was tremendous praise for the appearance of officers when in uniform and the professional feeling that it evokes. A host of positive adjectives were used to describe officers such as: brave, patient, approachable, articulate, well-rounded, visible presence, responsive, caring, well-trained, dedicated, impressive, educated, organized, progressive as a new feature, regimented, follow guidelines, knowledgeable of the law, volunteer on own free time, proactive and becoming more transparent.
Split Decision! While many forum participants praised officers for their approachable and friendly demeanor, there were others that criticized the lack of this characteristic. Many provided personal examples of feeling both snubbed, as well as appreciated. When providing examples, people tended to feel that the more experienced an officer was, the more approachable and friendly he or she was. This perception was not necessarily based on the age of the officer as it was the years served on the force.
Needs Improvement! There appeared to be a high degree of consensus that residents would like officers to pause and speak to them in a friendly manner, as well as to wave when driving through neighborhoods in a patrol car.
“It upsets me when they (officers) don’t wave.” In addition, the behavior of officers when in their patrol car garnered considerable comment. Activities that caused the most negative feedback were examples given of when an officer exceeded the speed limit without operating lights and sirens, or the perceived lack of attentiveness if an officer was on a cell phone or computer while in the patrol car.
Community Forum HIGHLIGHTS RESULTS AND FINDINGS
Theme: Impression and Image of Department Positive! One area that was praised at the departmental level was the cross agency cooperation that occurs when investigating a crime scene. This agency cooperation was perceived very positively and seen as contributing to solving crime. Other unrelated areas of praise were the new roll out of the website and addition of a public information officer that is not a civilian. The new commitment to public information was seen as a vast improvement at the department level. In addition the inclusion of social media to the website was seen as staying current with technological trends. In addition, residents did state they were pleased the agency supports community events such as Relay For Life and Bike Night.
Needs Improvement! What became apparent was the impression and image of the officers as individuals differed greatly from the department as a unit. While the majority of the forum attendees described officers as friendly and responsive there was less consensus when describing the Cape Coral Police Department as an agency. Attendees commented on recent news reports relating to payments made to officers based on training and education factors. Other impressions were that the department overspends and numerous references were made to the specific costs for equipment items that were perceived as excessive. Additional impressions relating to the department were that the hiring process for the patrol section of the agency needed improved management. It was also suggested that upper management needed more training as this trickles down to officers.
Community Forum HIGHLIGHTS RESULTS AND FINDINGS
Theme: Community Safety Safety was perceived as individual given a person’s circumstances. For example, it was suggested a single, elderly woman might feel more unsafe than a young athletic male.
“Safety is real personal and objective.” While residents did quote low crime rates and stated they had a general sense of safety, it was acknowledged that residents shouldn’t let their guard down and now was not the time to pull back on services. One resident claimed,
“My safety is important to me and I am willing to pay for it.” When participants had been victims of crime, most stated it was considered non-violent. The most common crime experienced by the participants was theft and burglary. Residents commented on areas of Cape Coral where they felt more or less safe. These safety levels were linked to the vacancy rate of the neighborhoods, with those more vacant sections perceived as higher crime areas. Street lighting in neighborhoods and business districts was mentioned as important to deterring crime. Residents were quick to describe their personal activities and that they felt safe fishing or walking between the late night and early morning hours. Many participants commented that they moved to Cape Coral due to the safety record and low crime rates when compared with surrounding communities.
Concerns! There was a perception among many attendees that the crime that does occur in Cape Coral was related to drug use. Whether it was home invasion or petty theft from an unlocked car, many linked crime with drug use.
“It’s all petty non-violent stuff but if they walk in my house, it’s going to scare me.” Solicitors were seen as a potential source of crime and people seemed cautious when door-to-door sales representatives were in their neighborhood. In addition, improvement of programs to deter youth and young adults from getting involved in crime was seen as an area that needed increased attention.
Community Forum HIGHLIGHTS RESULTS AND FINDINGS
Theme: Traffic Enforcement The majority of the residents equated traffic enforcement with getting a “speeding ticket.” Since many of those present had received a traffic warning and/or citation, residents were very vocal about their opinions. Driving while under the influence was not widely discussed.
Recommendations! Citizens prefer more warnings versus being issued a citation. There were many who stated they favored a 3-step warning system which punished those chronic speeders and granted mercy to those who were occasionally heavy with their foot.
Also, residents were very relative in their perspective of traffic enforcement. Going a few miles over the speed limit was viewed as acceptable, while anything 20-miles or over was considered excessive and should be punished severely. Citizens did not like feeling “trapped” into a speeding ticket. They wanted their officers clearly visible in what was described as, “plain sight” and not “hiding” behind another object or using an “unmarked car.” People commented they felt tricked when officers monitor traffic from behind bridges, large objects or in vehicles not apparently representative of the agency. Adding more red lights and speed limit signs was recommended as being beneficial by many. Also, red lights were perceived as better than stop signs in getting compliance. Running red lights and texting or talking on a cell phone while driving was classified as an area that needed additional enforcement. When an officer does stop a motorist, it was asked that cars pull further off the road and to provide this information through community education. It was also suggested that the department provide community education on what “coming to a complete stop” involves. Many described their stopping habits as a “rolling stop.”
Concerns! In all the areas, traffic violations were perceived as having different standards of enforcement depending on the driver. Teens and young adults were perceived as having a different and more stringent level of traffic enforcement than older adults and seniors. It was suggested that the same offense was enforced differently based on age and/or the make and style of a car when receiving a traffic violation.
Community Forum HIGHLIGHTS RESULTS AND FINDINGS
COST OF SAFETY
Theme: Cost of Providing Public Safety Services Many citizens were very knowledgeable about the cost per capita for providing public safety services. There was a consensus that Cape Coral residents pay almost half of what some of the neighboring communities pay for a similar service. There were comments that public safety services should not be cut in an effort to balance city budgets.
“My safety is worth a lot.” There was also the perception that crime rates along with the cost of public safety services influenced the market value of property in Cape Coral.
Earlier in the forum discussion there were comments that the department overspent funds. However, when asked specifically whether Cape Coral residents get a suitable return on their taxpayer investment, the responses were favorable. It was acknowledged by many participants that the land area the department is responsible for is “massive” and officers and the department were praised for providing acceptable service levels in all parts of Cape Coral.
Concerns! Cost Cutting Measures! Personnel seemed to account for many of the cost cutting measures suggested by citizens. Given the current financial circumstances of many government agencies it was suggested that the pension system of police officers be evaluated as a cost-cutting measure. Other cost savings methods were to minimize overtime allocated to officers and to evaluate the top layer of administration for any positions that could be cut. However, there was strong sentiment that “boots on the ground” not be impacted if budget cuts were necessary. Additional methods highlighted for cutting costs were equipment and/or fuel consumption. Many suggested decreasing fuel consumption by using more fuel efficient cars where possible, as well as increase the “beat cop” and bicycle patrols. Increasing the number of feet on the pavement was viewed as having a two-fold benefit. The first was a cost savings measure and the second was the increased interaction citizens and officers would have.
Community Forum HIGHLIGHTS RESULTS AND FINDINGS Theme: Department Improvement Areas
Throughout the forum attendees offered suggestions for areas that could be improved. The primary area that citizens discussed was expanding and improving the services available for youth.
Youth Programs / School Resource Officers The School Resource Officer (SRO) program was praised for its efforts and was one area where most wanted additional resources. It was suggested that each school have its own SRO. Many of the participants were parents and their opinion was that gang activity or “fights” were being planned on school grounds. However, the negative or illegal behavior was being conducted off-campus. It was strongly suggested the SRO’s become more involved with the youth in their assigned schools in an effort to cut down on these negative behaviors.
There were some split comments on marine patrol. Some participants praised the efforts of the marine section while others stated the enforcement was not enough and slow to respond when they had Manatee issues.
Driving Habits of Officers As mentioned in a previous section, when officers exceed the speed limit without operating lights or sirens it was considered unprofessional. It was also suggested that an internal investigation be conducted on officers speeding while in a patrol car. In addition, officers using a cell phone or operating a computer while in a patrol car was perceived poorly.
Different Rapport with Age Limit Older adults (senior citizens) were perceived as being treated differently than youth or younger adults. Appearance (hair styles), type of vehicle being driven and age were all factors that residents thought influenced whether a traffic citation was given.
Non-Emergency Phone Contacts Several commented they had made use of the non-emergency phone number to request assistance or ask a question. It was suggested those answering the phone should be more helpful.
Aggressive Dog Behavior Many participants asked that officers be given additional training in handling aggressive dog behavior. There was a suggestion that the department’s K-9 division provide this training.
Community Forum HIGHLIGHTS RESULTS AND FINDINGS
Theme: Public Information / Communication Communication and community education were repeated themes throughout the forum discussion. Participants wanted more communication from the Cape Coral Police Department on a wide range of topics. In addition, it was requested that the manner and format information was communicated was important as well.
Interaction With Public! Numerous individuals suggested a protocol being established concerning how the public is informed about public safety issues. It was suggested that only one voice be heard in the news reports instead of comments from multiple sources. City council members and others working within a public sector capacity were perceived as not providing a unified voice when they spoke about issues relating to the department. The department was praised for its recent addition of adding a public information officer (PIO) position. Also, residents liked that the new position was someone who had a law enforcement background. It was suggested that a civilian needs to filter the information through their own understanding and having someone who is a member of the force was more credible and more friendly.
Social Media! Many of those participating were aware of the new changes that had been made to the department website. Increased uses of social media were encouraged as ways to keep the community up to date on public safety issues.
Types of Public Information Requested! Respondents were very vocal about the types and frequency with which they would like public information. Daily updates in the form of emails, news reports and web postings were suggested. Also, residents want to know when convictions are going to court, current crime rates, changes in personnel, scams being operated or any topics that would be included in an officer’s daily briefing. Positive news was requested on the “goings” and “happenings” of programs and their outcomes within the community. Community education was discussed in tandem with improved communication. There were many individuals that wanted to access information about abuse against children and the elderly. Residents also requested the department educate community members on the challenges facing an aging population and how to recognize and/or respond to a person suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s.
Community Forum HIGHLIGHTS RESULTS AND FINDINGS
Theme: Citizen Boards Providing Community Feedback All the forum attendees commented that more interaction with the Cape Coral Police Department would be beneficial for not only the agency but the community. The concept of being more transparent from the management level was seen as a positive. However, there was not consensus on the best way to achieve the interaction. While there were favorable sentiments made about citizen boards, residents were split on the criteria for being a member. In addition, residents liked the idea of citizen input concerning internal review issues.
Positives! Membership criteria was seen as crucial for success of any citizen board initiative. Some suggested requirements for board selection were: members must be representative of the community, impose term limits, at least one member should be a police officer and all members should have attended the Citizens Police Academy. It was also suggested that members should be knowledgeable about public safety services and maintain neutrality on the issues.
Split Decision! Attendees were not in favor of a citizen board if it was a paid position or if it added an extra layer of bureaucracy. Having a community representative board that balanced age, gender, ethnicity, business and community interests was repeatedly mentioned as an absolute necessity. Including input from community organizations was seen as a way to improve collaboration without adding additional management review. Organizations such as chambers of commerce, professional associations, and service clubs were perceived as avenues for additional input. In addition, the Horizon Council was suggested as a group to partner with for improved community feedback.
Concerns! However, others mentioned that a citizen board is not necessary. Community forums were suggested as a better model for gathering community input and feedback, as they are more encompassing of the general population and everyone has the opportunity to participate. Having at least two town hall meetings each year was another option discussed to bring forth community involvement in lieu of a citizen board. Finally, there was concern on how recommendations from a citizen board would be used.
Community Forum HIGHLIGHTS RESULTS AND FINDINGS
CITIZENS POLICE ACADEMY
LOCK IT OR LOSE IT
Theme: Initiatives / Programs / Services Throughout the forum discussion residents praised many of the current initiatives, programs and services offered by the Cape Coral Police Department. Many of these have been in existence for quite awhile and are thought of favorably by community members. When cost cutting measures were discussed the following programs were viewed as working well and needed to stay in place.
Initiative: Lock It or Lose It Whether it was leaving a car door unlocked or the garage door open, participants praised the initiative that officers take when patrolling their neighborhoods. Many gave their personal experiences with having an officer come to their front door in the wee hours of the night to inform them their personal property was unsecured. Most mentioned they wanted this initiative to continue and appreciated the effort.
Program: Citizens Police Academy & Volunteers The Citizens Police Academy was seen as a positive program that encouraged activity and created volunteers. This program was considered a necessity in the community and greatly appreciated. A large percentage of attendees discussed their personal experiences with the academy and were highly supportive that this program continue, as well as be expanded. Suggestions included offering alternative times for when the academy meets and relaxing the no beard and mustache requirement for volunteers.
Program: Victim Advocate Programs Victim advocate services were perceived favorably and praised by many. There was appreciation from recipients of these services and felt it was worthwhile for citizens. Many of those that were not familiar with the program suggested increasing the level of community awareness so this program was known when people are most vulnerable.
Services: Increased Services for the elderly and children were requested by many participants. The comments focused on the lack of social services available to certain groups and the need for additional assistance. Specifically services that assist residents or educate them in relation to abuse. The abuse of elderly and children were two groups that were repeatedly mentioned by multiple groups as needing additional response.
Community Forum HIGHLIGHTS SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS Participant Characteristics
About 40 citizens of Cape Coral participated in a half-day community forum. The participants were residents, long time business owners. Many of them had been “raised” in Cape Coral or had lived there for many years.
Overall Impression and Image The overwhelming theme of the day’s comments was the extreme professionalism of the officers. Many residents were impressed with the response rate as well as the low crime rate compared to other communities.
Officer Characteristics Officers were praised for their professionalism, appearance in uniform and overall dedication to the residents of Cape Coral. There were numerous requests for additional rapport with community members that could be expressed through waving or chatting with residents and business owners while on patrol.
Impressions and Images of Department Cooperation with other agencies was perceived as valued and contributed to solving crime. The hiring process for patrol officers was suggested as an area for improvement. The impressions people had of the department differed from of individual officers.
Community Safety Community safety was perceived in an extremely positive manner with most participants commenting on the low crime rate in Cape Coral. In addition, many residents stated they had moved to the community based on the safety factor and felt comfortable in outdoor activities during late night and early morning hours.
Traffic Enforcement Citizens want more warnings and fewer citations. While reckless driving is a top priority, residents want their patrol officers in plain sight driving a clearly identifiable law enforcement vehicle. Also, there was the perception that enforcement was influenced by a person’s demographics and/or type of vehicle being driven.
Community Forum HIGHLIGHTS SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS
Cost of Providing Public Safety Services Safety was the primary concern when speaking with residents and not cost. However, many attendees were aware of the cost per capita for providing public safety services and praised the department for providing a “good bang for the buck.” In addition, it was strongly suggested that public safety services not be reduced if city budgets needed to be trimmed.
Public Information / Communication People want more opportunities and more formats to provide their input to the Cape Coral Police Department. Hosting additional community forums was viewed as a plus, as were adding at least two town hall meetings for public commentary. The role of public information was valued by the participants and they requested more information not less via media reports, online postings through social media networks and email blasts.
Citizen Boards Providing Community Feedback There was no consensus in relation to citizen boards. Increased interaction was desired but not at the risk of adding additional bureaucracy. Residents did like the concept of bringing more representative voices “to the table for input” but were not consistent on whether it should be done through increased collaboration with outside groups, creating a citizen board or just hosting more community forums.
Initiatives / Programs / Services The three most discussed initiatives and programs were: Lock It or Lose It, Citizens Police Academy and the Victim Advocate program. These were all praised for the results and services that are provided to the residents of Cape Coral. Also, there were numerous requests for an increase in services for elderly, children and youth. Programs that address abuse along with youth services such as DARE were the most requested.
Department Improvement Areas Areas suggested for improvement were increasing the number of school resource officers, monitoring the driving habits of officers, improving the attitude toward citizens when calling about non-emergency issues and training officers on aggressive dog behavior.
Community Forum HIGHLIGHTS SUGGESTIONS
Alter Format This effort represents the first initiation of a broader plan to improve community interaction between the Cape Coral Police Department and the residents it serves. When the community forum was being planned inclusion was the top priority. Hence, such considerations were made to the day of the week, location and time the forum was to be held in an effort to accommodate the widest population of residents. When informing the residents of Cape Coral all major media outlets in Southwest Florida covered the event and were diligent in their follow up coverage. When registrations were tallied those that registered very closely represented a purposeful sample of the community.
Of those that attended the forum, there were more males than females, more senior citizens than younger and middle aged adults, and more Caucasians than minority ethnicities. Every effort was made to include all demographic groups. As a consideration for future community forums to be more inclusive, it is suggested a partnership with other organizations might garner a broader range of participants. For example, civic, community, women's, faith-based and business groups should be considered. Also, multiple sessions of 10 or fewer residents could be held to allow more time slots for individuals to participate. Lastly, it is suggested that demographic information not be required during a registration process as this could have influenced the overall participation rate.
Community Forum HIGHLIGHTS APPENDIX
Forum Questions 1. Have you ever had personal contact with Cape Coral Police Department? If yes, please explain. 2. What is your image/impression of the Cape Coral Police Department? What is your source? Media, personal contact, comments from friends/family? 3. What does the Cape Coral Police Department do well? 4. What could the Cape Coral Police Department do better? 5. Do you feel safe in Cape Coral at work/home? Why or why not? 6. What services would you like added, enhanced or eliminated? If you would like to add or enhance services, are you willing to support it with taxpayer dollars? 7. Have you ever offered an opinion, filed a complaint or praised an officer with the Cape Coral Police Department? Did they listen? Did you receive a response? 8. Are citizen boards an appropriate mechanism to gather community feedback? 9. What is your opinion about an ongoing Citizen Advisory Board to work with the department separate and apart from the Councilâ€™s initiative of a Citizen Review Board? If yes, would you be willing to serve? 10. What do you think about the crime rate in Cape Coral? 11. When crime does happen in Cape Coral, does the Cape Coral Police Department do a good job of handling it? 12. Are Victim Service programs important to you, the victims and community at large? 13. Traffic enforcement has been a community concern for many years. Would you prefer more enforcement, less enforcement or does it appear to be an appropriate level? 14. Do you believe the Cape Coral Police Department provides a suitable return on the taxpayersâ€™ investment? 15. Is departmental cost savings a concern for you in relation to police services? If so, what cost saving measures would you suggest?
Community Forum HIGHLIGHTS APPENDIX Moderator Biographies Anne Dalton Anne Dalton is an attorney and mediator. Ms. Dalton has been licensed in New York, Pennsylvania and Florida for a total of 34 years, 20 of which have been spent in Lee County, Florida.
Lorna Kibbey Lorna Kibbey worked for the state of Florida for 24 prior to entering the field as a motivation speaker. Ms. Kibbey now conducts leadership and motivational training.
Jim LaRue Jim LaRue is a former city manager and county administrator. Currently, Mr. LaRue specializes in consulting for government sector organizations assisting them with goal setting and visioning.
Anne Schroeder Anne Schroeder is the first director of the Florida Institute of Government. Ms. Schroeder has been doing management consulting and training for the last 23 years.
Community Forum HIGHLIGHTS APPENDIX Frequently Asked Questions (Distributed at press conference February 16, 2011) 1) What is community engagement? Community engagement is the process of building relationships within the community and involving them in the decision making process. This partnership is crucial to the successful development of policies and decisions being implemented within the community. Community engagement is an opportunity for communities to contribute solutions by valuing local talents and skills and acknowledging their capacity to be decision makers in their own lives. Community engagement provides an opportunity for the public to collaborate with the CCPD toward identifying needs and developing solutions to improve their quality of life. 2) Why is the Cape Coral Police Department Hosting a Community Engagement Forum? The CCPD cares about the residents of Cape Coral and wants community feedback on their perceptions of what can be done to improve the public safety services in Cape Coral. 3) When and Where is the Community Engagement Forum being held? Saturday, March 5, 2011, 8:30 am â€“ 1:00 pm. The forum is being held at Tarpon Point in Cape Coral. 4) What is a Community Engagement Forum? Scheduled: Saturday, March 5, 2011 from 8:30 am â€“ 1:00 pm t is designed to allow citizens the opportunity to express their thoughts, feelings, opinions and ideas about the public safety services they receive from the CCPD. The forum was scheduled for a Saturday in order to accommodate the majority of citizens. Residents must register to attend the Community Engagement Forum via the CCPD website or a paper application that can be picked up at the CCPD Information Desk. A maximum of 80 residents will be selected from the registered pool to participate in a 4-hour forum. Residents will be selected to most closely represent the community at-large. Participants will be broken out into 4 groups (approximately 20 people per group) with each group being led by a moderator. Each group will be given a list of questions designed to gauge their opinions on the public safety issues in Cape Coral and provide feed back and suggestions on improvements that can be made to the agency. After the break out groups have discussed the questions they will reconvene in a general assembly for a brief summary presentation from each group before the Forum concludes. 5) What is the criteria for being a Community Engagement Forum participant? A person must be a resident or business owner in Cape Coral and selected to participate. Youth (ages 14+) â€“ Senior adults are invited to register. 6) How does a resident register for the Community Engagement Forum? In order to participate in the Community Engagement Forum residents must register no later than Wednesday, March 2nd either online through accessing the CCPD website (www.CapeCops.com) or via a paper application that may be picked up at the CCPD Information Desk.
Community Forum HIGHLIGHTS APPENDIX Frequently Asked Questions (continued) 7) If I can't come to the Community Engagement Forum, can I still voice my opinion? Yes, however, someone must register online or via paper application and then a survey with the same questions as those being given to the forum participants will be given to the resident via weblink or paper survey that can be picked up at the CCPD Information Desk. 8) What if more than 80 people register to participate in the Community Engagement Forum? A maximum of 80 people will be selected from all those that register in order to most closely represent the overall demographics of Cape Coral. For any individual that is not selected to participate in the 4-hour moderated forum, he/she will be contacted and given the opportunity to answer the same questions that will be discussed during the forum. All those that register are encouraged to respond to the survey questions and provide their responses back to the CCPD. All responses received will be analyzed for the final report. 9) If I don't have access to a computer can I still voice my opinion? Yes, paper registration forms are available at the CCPD office at the Information Desk. 10) How many residents may participate in the Community Engagement Forum? From all the applicants, 80 residents will be selected that most closely represent the demographics of Cape Coral. 11) Can I just show up the day of the Community Engagement Forum? No, you must have pre-registered in order to participate in the moderated sessions. 12) If I registered for the Community Engagement Forum but didnâ€™t get selected to participate can I just show up the day of the event and participate? No, a representative sample that most closely matches the community demographics will be taken from those that pre-register. A maximum of 80 residents will be asked to participate in the 4-hour moderated format. 13) Is there a cost for participating in the Community Engagement Forum? No, the Community Engagement Forum is free to the residents. 14) Will child care be provided at the Community Engagement Forum? Child care will not be available. It is suggested participants make other child care arrangements in advance. 15) Is there an age requirement in order to participate in the Community Engagement Forum? The CCPD is concerned about how public safety services influence all residents of Cape Coral. Therefore, youth (ages 14+) â€“ senior adults are invited to register. 16) If I am a youth ages 14-17, can my parents attend the Community Engagement Forum with me? Yes, a parent of the youth that will be participating may sit with their child during the moderated sessions. 17) Will refreshments be provided during the Community Engagement Forum? Yes, refreshments and lunch will be provided for participants.
Community Forum HIGHLIGHTS APPENDIX Frequently Asked Questions (continued) 18) How are the results from the Community Engagement Forum being compiled and analyzed? The CCPD has partnered with Florida Gulf Coast Universityâ€™s Institute of Government to host the moderated Community Engagement Forum. A researcher affiliated with the Institute of Government will analyze all the comments received during the forum and from the public. A report will be compiled and made available based on the results. 19) How will the community find out about the results of the Community Engagement Forum? A researcher affiliated with the Florida Gulf Coast University's Institute of Government will collect all the comments and community feedback, analyze the information and present a follow-up report to the community on Thursday, March 10, 2011 at 6:30 pm at Cape Coral City Council Chambers 1000 Cultural Park Blvd. Also, a written report will be available on the CCPD website at: www.capecoral.net 20) Is the public invited to the follow-up session? Yes the public is invited to attend the follow-up session regardless of whether they participated in the Community Engagement Forum. 21) How will the Cape Coral Police Department respond once the results from the Community Engagement Forum have been presented back to the community? The mission of the Cape Coral Police Department is to ensure the safety and well-being of our community through a partnership with our citizens. Therefore, the CCPD is committed to putting the needs of others first and building trust within the community. Thus, the CCPD will integrate the suggestions from the Forum into their strategic plan where legally and fiscally possible. 22) Are there going to be any more Community Engagement Forums in the future or is this just a one-time event? There will be future forums. This is an on-going process 23) May the media record the moderated session? Members of the media are welcome on the day of the forum before the event. However, it is asked that the moderated sessions not be recorded so as not to discourage participation from the community members. Also, members of the media may attend the follow-up session scheduled for Thursday, March 10, 2011 at 6:30 pm at City Council Chambers.
Community Forum HIGHLIGHTS APPENDIX Report Prepared & Presented By Jennifer James-Mesloh holds a Ph.D. in Public Affairs and a M.P.A. in Public Administration. Dr. James-Mesloh is a peer-reviewed published researcher and her expertise includes: conducting program evaluations for government agencies and non-profits.
Photos Used in Report
JENNIFER JAMES-MESLOH, PH.D.
The photos used in this report for illustrative representation were purchased as stock photography. None of photos used are actual representations of Cape Coral police officers or anyone that participated in the Community Engagement Forum.
Joanne Hartke, Director 8695 College Parkway, Suite 1181 Fort Myers, FL 33919 239-425-3217 www.fgcu.edu.iog
Report Prepared & Presented By: Jennifer James-Mesloh, Ph.D. Phone: 239-425-5658 Email: email@example.com