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Is Durango Police Department’s mission aligned with community values?

Advisory panel offers feedback about issues of homelessness, social reform

The Durango Police Department is taking steps to gather community input in an effort to align its mission with the city’s values.

The department has been ramping up efforts to address community concerns ever since social reform protests swept the nation this summer. As part of that effort, Chief Bob Brammer hosted the first meeting of the Chief’s Advisory Panel, a diverse set of community leaders, in November.

First on the list: get residents to share what they want from their police department.

Brammer

“We’re hoping to generate new ideas and solutions with the community, and gather community perspectives on different issues that are hot-topic items either regionally or nationally,” Brammer said.

The panel is in its infancy, but it is already generating interest in the community. Its goal is to gather input from stakeholders who are traditionally marginalized or underrepresented.

In November, two dozen stakeholders attended the meeting, representing Fort Lewis College, Durango School District 9-R, the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, the Women’s Resource Center, LGBTQ residents, local businesses, immigrants and the homeless community.

“In these extremely stressful times for all communities, the more communication you can set up, the better for all parties,” said Jenn Lopez, an affordable housing expert who also represented the homeless community.

The discussion covered building and regaining trust, homelessness issues, community outreach and a range of other topics.

Participation is flexible, so the panel’s structure can be responsive to the biggest issues of the moment. Participants will continue establishing goals at the next meeting in January or February, Brammer said.

“This panel is built by the community. By bringing these people to the table, they’re going to hold me accountable to this (effort),” Brammer said.

In the meantime, the department and panel are setting up a community survey that will guide the department’s strategic plan.

“The survey is a really effective way to surface key issues that are broadly held,” Lopez said.

The department’s mission is to enhance the quality of life through the reduction of crime and the perception of crime, Brammer said. He wants to know if the department is missing something important to the community.

“That’s a pretty standard law enforcement mission, but is that what is best for Durango?” he said.

More information about how and when the survey will be distributed is to be determined, Brammer said.

“The ultimate goal is transparency. We want to continue to build on that,” he said.

smullane@durangoherald.com

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