Community Engagement Assessment

​​En español  Beginning in October of 2020, the City of Salem conducted a performance audit of the Police Department's policies, procedures and programs with a focus on interactions with unsheltered individuals; interactions with individuals experiencing behavioral health crises; engagement with our community with particular attention to black, indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC); response to assemblies and crowds; department capacity; use of force: and officer accountability.  The resulting recommendations, featured below, were informed by best practice and considered the context of the City's budget and available resources, and community capacity.

Independent Assessment of the Salem Police Department's Policies, Procedures, and Operations - April 22nd 2021

A Message from the Steering Committee - April 29 2021

Chief of Police Memo Regarding Assessment - April 29 2021

Why a performance audit?

In 2020, City Council and the community wanted to better understand how Salem police officers prepare for and interact with unsheltered individuals and individuals experiencing behavioral health crises; and how the Police Department prepares for anfd responds during peaceful assemblies, permitted protests and demonstrations, and impromptu crowds gathering.  Police officers are challenged with balancing responses to calls and unobligated patrol time, where officers may have opportunities to engage with residents in productive ways and build relationships.  Officer accountability is essential to maintaining public trust.  Review and adjudication processes must be fair to all and complainants must have confidence that their grievances have been considered by the Police Department and City without bias or predisposition.  Police officers must have confidence in the integrity and competence of their colleagues. 

The performance audit was guided by several questions.

  • Are the Police Department's policies and tactics aligned with City Council and community values and expectations?

  • What is the Department's capacity for community policing?

  • How effective are Salem police officers in engaging with all Salem residents?  How effective is the Department's engagement with youth?  Are the Department's policies, tactics, or training biased or discriminatory?

  • How effective are the Police Department and City's systems, policies, and procedures for officer accountability?

Third-party review

Hillard Heintze was selected for the Community Policing Performance Audit.  Their team is impressive, bringing depth in policing, community engagement and equity and inclusion to the table.  The recommendation was unanimous, and all parties expressed confidence and enthusiasm in working with their team for this important work.  Evaluation committee representatives were experienced in accountability, performance auditing as a discipline, policing, outreach and engagement, committee facilitation, and policy analysis.

As part of their work with our community and to supplement virtual meetings and engagement, Hillard Heintze conducted extensive interviews in the community.   The Steering Committee and performance auditing firm will be supported by a staff group comprised of representatives from the City Manager's Office, City Attorney's Office, Human Resources and Police Department.

Timeline for Salem Community Policing Audit140 KB10/14/2020
8/11/2021329 KB
8/11/2021326 KB
4/29/2021295 KB
3/11/2021349 KB
1/14/2021306 KB
12/10/2020323 KB
11/19/2020464 KB
11/5/2020297 KB
10/22/2020133 KB

​Steering committee

To support this work and desired engagement with our community, the City assembled an advisory group of community leaders with expertise in areas of focus proposed in the audit.  The Steering Committee served as a sounding board at key milestones and decision points.  As recommendations were being formed, the Steering Committee met to consider preliminary findings and recommendations.  Steering Committee Chair, Jodi Sherwood, also serves as the Chair of the Salem Community Police Review Board.

The Steering Committee met seven times to review initial findings, prepare and interim report for the City Council in December 2020, and finalize the audit report and recommendations for a Joint Work Session with the City Council. Meetings were available for streaming, as is our practice with Boards and Commissions during the COVID Pandemic.  

Committee members

Jodi Sherwood, Community Police Review Board Chair

Officer accountability

Ann-Marie Bandfield, Marion County Public Safety Coordinating Council

Service spectrum: acute and forensic behavioral health

George Burke, Deputy Chief of Police

Salem Police Department polices, programs, and activities

Levi Herrera, Mano a Mano

BIPOC community member

Kathleen Jonathan, Salem-Keizer School District

BIPOC community member

Ashley Hamilton, ARCHES

Service spectrum: unsheltered community

Casey Kopcho, Oregon Secretary of State Audits Division

Cyndi Leinassar, Salem Health & Salem Police Foundation

Service spectrum: unsheltered

Wilma Marchbanks, Salem Human Rights Commission

BIPOC community member

Scotty Nowning, Salem Police Employees Union

Salem Police Department employee

Contact us

Courtney Knox BuschStrategic Initiatives Manager
8:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.
555 Liberty ST SE RM 220
Salem OR 97301