To Provide Quality Constituent Engagement And Response
The community should be able to interact with the City easily and their voices should be heard when they want a way to change. Read more about specific actions we took in 2019 to improve our community engagement strategies.
Police-Community Conversations • Police Virtual Front Desk • Expanded Common Council Streaming • Columbus Dialogue Circles • Innovation Team Priority Area • Fire and Carbon Monoxide Alarm Installations • Fire Department Community Outreach • Social Media Engagement • Cities RISE • Westmoreland Community Center
The second half of 2019 was filled with community meetings hosted by the Syracuse Police Department and the Mayor’s Office. Six police-community outreach meetings were held in neighborhoods throughout the city, affording residents the opportunity to voice their public safety and quality of life concerns directly to Chief Buckner and his team. The meetings served as a way to improve police-community relations and to build a rapport between the new chief and the public.
Police Virtual Front Desk
A new Office of Public Relations was launched by the Syracuse Police Department in 2019. An effective tool that was created by the office to encourage engagement is the Virtual Front Desk. Individuals can use their personal social media profiles to connect with an officer using any of its social pages for a more direct response.
In addition to being accessible online, Uniform Patrol officers participated in Neighborhood Power Walks, attended 156 community events, and had one officer’s way of giving back to the community go viral.
Public Meeting Streaming
The City continued to stream meetings held in the Council Chambers online via its YouTube channel. Dozens of past public meetings, and Common Council study and voting sessions have been recorded and are available to viewers going back one year. The channel has grown to nearly 400 subscribers with a total of 57,686 total views to date.
Columbus Dialogue Circles
InterFaith Works and the City of Syracuse Mayor’s Office partnered to host three “dialogue circles” in 2018 and 2019 to discuss the history of the Columbus holiday and the cultural significance of Columbus Circle to certain communities. Participants were able to share different perspectives while engaging in respectful and educational conversations about the topic. A report was published by InterFaith Works to serve as a reference guide for the historic viewpoints shared, and a framework for proactive considerations in the future.
Innovation Team Priority Area
The Office of Accountability, Performance, and Innovation (API) announced Permitting as the 2019-2020 Priority Area. The API team evaluated a number of the Central Permit Office functions to understand the permit application process, approval timeline, staff responsibilities, filing systems, and customer needs. A comprehensive series of projects and initiatives to improve the permitting customer experience, operations, communication, and process are underway.
Fire and Carbon Monoxide Alarm Installations
The Fire Department doubled the number of installations of smoke detectors in one and two-family homes in 2019 than in 2018. Through the Fire Prevention Division, firefighters installed 2,223 smoke detectors. The Division also installs carbon monoxide detectors in homes when needed.
Residents are encouraged to call 315-448-4777 if they are in need of a smoke or carbon monoxide detector.
Fire Department Community Outreach
Fire Department Education
Syracuse Firefighters visited schools within the Syracuse City School District on 106 occasions in 2019. The department shared fire education, prevention, and safety information with students at various grade-levels, also highlighting the fire drone program. The mobile house of hazards was used to teach children how to escape from their home if a fire were to occur.
Fire Department Open House
In October 2019, an open house and parade took place at Fire Station 2 located at 2300 Lodi Street. The event was a huge success. Children and families receive a fun and educational fire safety experience.
Social Media Engagement
In 2019, the City’s combined social media platforms have seen a 21% increase in Twitter followers; a 21% increase in Facebook likes; a 78% increase in Instagram followers; and an increase of 72% followers on LinkedIn.
City departments (Police, Fire, Parks and the Mayor’s Office) providing the most direct communications to constituents had their Public Information Officers go through training and meet regularly in 2019. The group is scheduled to continue ongoing discussions about how to strategically utilize each platform.
Kitchen Table Talks
Staff from the Department of Neighborhood and Business Development and the Division of Code Enforcement partnered with the Westside Peacemaking Center, a project of the Center for Court Innovation, to conduct a series of 60 engagement sessions through Cities RISE. The program is supported by the NYS Attorney General’s Office. Residents hosted more than 40 “Kitchen Table Talks” in their homes over the summer.
City representatives heard from more than 700 participants about housing concerns and visions for their neighborhoods. As a result of these efforts, we will be working to implement a more comprehensive structure for strategic neighborhood planning and code enforcement efforts. A goal would be to have residents work alongside city staff to keep the dialogue going.
Westmoreland Community Center
After being closed for five years, the Department of Parks, Recreation and Youth Services proposed to use the Westmoreland recreation center as a temporary dog shelter while the original location was being renovated. While the placement was temporary, residents in the community learned of the plans and began to communicate what they preferred the location be used for. In March 2019, the community started and submitted a petition to voice their concerns, kick-starting a productive community engagement process.
Deputy Mayor Sharon Owens, Common Council President Helen Hudson, and 5th District Councilman Joseph Driscoll met with the Parks team and a plan ensued. Both a program committee and facilities committee was formed. Community stakeholders worked with each committee for several months to come up with ideas and programs that residents in the area wanted, and the revitalization of the community center began.
Two community outreach events, a renovation schedule, and one ribbon-cutting ceremony later, the vision for the center was completed. Representatives from a number of organizations helped make the renovation possible: Peace Inc.; The Vineyard Church; Planned Parenthood; Peacemaking Program; Center for Court of Innovation; The Gifford Foundation; Central New York Community Foundation; Onondaga County District Attorney’s Office; HOPE Initiative; Boys & Girls Clubs of Syracuse; City of Syracuse Common Council; Skilled Trades Department; and FOCUS Greater Syracuse.