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Change from Within: Empathy, Humanity, and Improving Police Response

How to improve police response and engagement in our neighborhoods is the topic.

It started with a phone call to Jackie Acho from Detective Christopher Gibbons with the Cleveland Division of Police. He said, "I think we have a problem with empathy, can you help us?" Jackie is the President of the Acho Group, a strategy and leadership consulting firm whose 2014  TEDx talk – A Good Day’s Work Requires Empathy caught Detective Gibbons' attention. To most, this seemed like an unlikely partnership, but Acho and Gibbons got to work.

The goal was for the Police District to foster more empathy through cultural transformation and systems change from within, not training from the outside. So they created a new leadership model in District 4 and launched internal Innovation Teams, as well as the first employee engagement survey in the 160-year history of the police department. Top of the list in responses was a desire for increased community engagement, removal of tedious and repetitive paperwork, and a focus on officer mental health.

The result of the culture shift: Use of force decreased, citizen complaints were down, and officer transfers increased back into District 4. Now, three of the five districts are using the program.

Join us in-person at the City Club as we learn how to improve police response and engagement in our neighborhoods--particularly high-crime regions where empathy is most needed to de-escalate situations.

Marilyn Burns
Community Advocate and Volunteer; Ward 6 Precinct Committee Member

Christopher Gibbons 
Detective, Cleveland Division of Police

Brandon Kutz
Commander, Fourth District, Cleveland Division of Police