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Challenge

How do you rebuild trust between a city and its police force? The videotaped shooting death of unarmed teenager Laquan McDonald by Chicago police officers led to outrage across Chicago over police-involved shootings. Mayor Rahm Emanuel appointed a Police Accountability Task Force to develop recommendations for reforming Chicago Police Department and ultimately restoring trust between the police and all the communities they serve. Grisko was called on by the Task Force to develop and implement a robust citywide community outreach plan.

Response

Grisko designed the Task Force brand; crafting impactful messaging and materials, and repositioning the internal PATF website and social media platforms to serve as public information hubs. Grisko then coordinated four 3-hour community forums in different areas of the city — all within a month’s time — to gather people’s feedback about their experiences with Chicago police and inform the Task Force’s work. To increase attendance and impact, the Grisko team worked with a trusted and diverse group of outreach partners to engage representatives across Chicago’s neighborhoods, including local elected officials, community, legal, and civic organizations, religious institutions, businesses, and advocacy and youth groups. Grisko also led media relations efforts throughout the project, and when the Task Force was ready to announce its recommendations, Grisko handled all aspects of the news conference, as well as editorial board meetings and calls.

Results

More than 750 people attended the Task Force forums. The interest generated by the Task Force’s Report and the community engagement along the way led previously skeptical organizations to get involved and play a role in moving the recommendations forward. The Task Force Report generated extensive local, national and international media coverage. The coverage, including positive editorials in the New York Times and two in the Chicago Tribune, was accurate and impactful and placed Chicago in the spotlight of police accountability issues and the need for change.