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How Data Transparency and Public Participation Can Help Address Pressure on Police Budgets

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Police budget funding has been a hot topic in communities, and budget managers have been caught in the crosshairs of the media attention and public’s demand for change. Budget managers will agree that a general explanation about police budgets will not help the public understand how police budgets are allocated by local governments. What can organizations do to help the public understand the decisions behind police budgets and engage them in the budgeting process right from the start?

 

On March 30th, Questica hosted an interactive panel discussion on data transparency and public participation on police budgets based on the GFOA paper, Time for Change: A Practical Approach to Rethinking Police Budgeting, co-written by panelist Shayne Kavanagh.

 

The webinar panel included:

 

with special guest speakers:

  • Shayne Kavanagh, Senior Manager, Research, GFOA
  • Aaron Mertz, Management Assistant, City of Phoenix

 

The speakers discussed the importance of using data transparency to educate and engage the public in the decision-making process behind budgets planned for community health and safety, such as police budgets.

 

“It’s important to find a way to involve both the community and the police in the decision-making process so both of those groups feel like they have some control and input in the budgeting decision, and for the decision to really last and be powerful.” — Shayne Kavanagh, Senior Manager, Research, GFOA

 

Chris Adams, President, Balancing Act and Doug Fletcher, Project Manager & Implementation Specialist, Questica demonstrated how data visualization tools such as Balancing Act and OpenBook can display metrics and encourage public participation. Simulations and visualizations can accommodate diverse audiences and can improve data transparency and engagement to create compelling narratives and encourage fact-based decision-making.

 

Aaron Mertz, Management Assistant, City of Phoenix highlighted how it has been critical for his organization to educate and engage the public in the City’s annual budget process and demonstrated the City of Phoenix’s FundPHX tool, hosted by Balancing Act.

 

 

Key takeaways from the discussion:

  1. Data transparency and citizen engagement is critical
  2. Simulations and visualizations accommodate diverse audiences
  3. Data provides the foundation for compelling narrative and fact–based decision-making and
  4. It is important to develop community trust

 

To hear the full discussion and to learn how data visualization tools can help local governments become more transparent and encourage public participation in the budgeting process, watch the How Data Transparency and Public Participation Can Help Address Pressure on Police Budgets webinar.

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