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The news article describes the two-phase construction of a police facility in Bartlett. The first phase of construction was scheduled for completion by the end of May 2018 (Village of Bartlett, 2018). Police officers would move into the facility upon the completion of this phase. Subsequently, the second phase will be undertaken.
The Bartlett Police Department made numerous attempts to incorporate public involvement. For instance, the agency provided a link for members of the public to view construction photos. The agency also invited people to communicate their concerns or ask questions. In this regard, members of the public were provided with contact details of the construction manager. Jeffrey Field was identified as the project manager responsible for both phases of construction (Village of Bartlett, 2018). Hence, it was easy for people to engage the responsible parties for clarifications or suggestions.
Furthermore, the Bartlett Police Department encouraged public involvement by inviting visitors to tour the station. In fact, over 900 people attended the Open House event on April 2. Attendees were allowed to see the work space shared by 57 police officers and 20 staff members (Village of Bartlett, 2018). Visitors toured the shooting range and the police chief’s office. Booking procedures were explained together with lockup processes. Attendees were taken to the garage where specialty vehicles and squad cars were kept. In these ways, the Bartlett Police Department worked to incorporate public involvement.
In addition, involvement of the local community was solicited through public hearings. The Zoning Board of Appeals and Plan Commission held meetings in April. Members of the public were allowed to offer their views on the new facility. Subsequently, the Village Board Committee of the Whole was empowered to review all submissions. Bartlett ensured total transparency by providing the minutes of meetings held to discuss space needs and other issues.
Frederick Quinn Corporation (FQC) served as the construction manager for the project (Village of Bartlett, 2018). Jeffrey Field was the primary contact person involved with the project. The project was to be completed within one year. Granted, there were a few barriers during the construction process. The Bartlett Village Board required several months to study and weigh the information from Village consultants (Village of Bartlett, 2018). Long deliberations stalled the project since William Architects could not proceed without approval from the Bartlett Village Board. The article documents several aspects of success. For example, the new police facility respected the neighborhood and reduced the impact on local residents. The new facility would also meet the system, equipment, and technology requirements of a reputable law enforcement agency. Moreover, the concept plan incorporated future projections of growth. During construction, police operations were never interrupted.
I agree with agency and its approach since it was founded on accountability. Members of the public could examine the progress of construction at the facility. In fact, a link to the police facility video was provided. The Bartlett Police Department ensured transparency in its dealings. Detailed explanations were provided as to why the department needed a new police facility. Public hearings were held to allow local residents to give submissions. The agency considered the impact of construction on the local community. In this regard, FQC were obligated to eradicate the construction mess (Village of Bartlett, 2018). Consequently, I endorse the agency’s approach since it ensured transparency and accountability.
Social media played an integral role in public involvement. Members of the public were encouraged to share their views on Facebook and Twitter. The Bartlett Police Department had active accounts on such platforms to engage with members of the local community. Social media platforms were quite popular due to the widespread availability of smartphones. Hence, the agency took full advantage of social media to initiate public involvement.
If I were the head of a public agency, I would require my public information personnel to be formal. Public agencies must develop a good reputation to enjoy goodwill from the local community. It was important for public agencies to fulfill their mandate with the utmost professionalism. Public information personnel would be required to issue official communication to local residents. In this regard, all releases would be proofread and analyzed to ensure clarity. Using ambiguous words would distort the message. Besides, public information personnel must always provide opportunities for people to ask for clarifications. The former would be expected to create and manage social media profiles on behalf of the agency. It was prudent to send posts that were relevant to matters affecting the public. Replies to inquiries would also be helpful and respectful.
There is plenty of room for information communication in government. Contact numbers are usually provided for people to make toll-free calls. Email addresses were also provided for people to send official communication. Press releases and social media posts were regularly used to engage with members of the public. The federal government was primarily concerned with national interests. Hence, local concerns needed to be addressed in the context of national implications. It was important to consider the suggestions offered by people from the local community. Any complications at the local or State level could be forwarded to federal representatives.
Nevertheless, the Internet and social media involvement could become a concern under certain circumstances. For instance, it was inappropriate to post personal pictures on the agency’s profile. This would make the agency appear unprofessional. All posts on social media should be relevant to matters affecting the local community. In this regard, the agency would lose respect if it posted information about sporting events. Social media posts should not be used to comment on other social issues that could polarize opinion. Pictures of suspects, victims, or crime scenes must never be posted on social media.
The proliferation of the Internet has made it easy for people to share information with other users. However, the Internet becomes harmful when it is used to share unconfirmed or false reports. Damaging details can go viral within a relatively short time. Some agencies send erroneous posts that are deleted almost immediately. However, people usually capture such posts and share them with others. It is critical for agencies to control how social media and the Internet are used. Hackers and other unscrupulous people can use fake social media accounts to communicate with local residents. People may imagine that certain posts originate from a certain agency. Police departments and other agencies should ensure that they have verified social media profiles. Login details must also be changed regularly to prevent the likelihood of infiltration. Misleading information can cause havoc among the recipients. Hence, agencies must take precautions to ensure that their social media accounts are secure.
Village of Bartlett. (2018, April). New Police Facility. Retrieved on May 31, 2018 from http://www.village.bartlett.il.us/government/public-works/water-division/police-department-facility
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