The recent trial of Derek Chauvin has reverberated in the community, throughout the City of Woodbury organization and, most importantly, among community members of color. While the jury's verdict in April may represent a point of closure and justice for some, it is just one chapter in a larger story about race and equity - and the book is far from finished.
Racial inequities remain pervasive and deep in our society, and it is our duty as public servants to understand them, be able to discuss them, and build strategies to overcome them. As we think of our future, reflective of our community's increasing diversity and our desire to provide access and opportunity to all, we will continue to critically examine our systems, processes and behaviors in order to eliminate disparities in our organization and community.
As President Abraham Lincoln promised a new beginning for the nation - for everyone - in his Gettysburg Address in 1863, he famously stated government should be "of the people, by the people, for the people..." The City Council and I recognize we are in a unique position to exercise leadership to - as it says in the preamble to the U.S. Constitution - "form a more perfect union" and "establish justice." It is important we continue to have conversations about racial disparities and, accordingly, I want to share more about recent actions the city is taking to advance its efforts in the areas of diversity, equity and inclusion.
Public Safety effectiveness
In 2019, we - the City Council - identified "adapt and enhance Public Safety effectiveness" as a strategic priority. As the community ages and diversifies, there is increasing, and sometimes conflicting, demand for services provided by the Public Safety Department. Proceeding with public safety as a strategic priority, especially in light of recent events, provides the necessary research, detail and focus on these services to ensure the City Council can make informed, long-term and strategic decisions regarding not only the Public Safety Department, but the public safety of the community. This is an ongoing strategic priority.
Multicultural Advisory Committee
In 2020, the Woodbury Police Department Multicultural Advisory Committee (MAC) formed. This engaged group of volunteers of color advise the Woodbury Police Department in order to enrich the relationship between underrepresented community members and the department. By creating opportunities to learn from each other and building trust and communication between the police and community members, we hope to ultimately improve the safety and livability of our community.
Diversifying the workforce
A continued area of growth for us is improving the diversity of our workforce in the City of Woodbury organization to be more reflective of the demographics of the community. We have been working on strategies to recruit and hire more diverse candidates for positions across the city organization. We firmly believe that a diverse workforce creates a better spirit of community, shared ideas and increased creativity. We hope that open and inclusive employment practices and policies can help attract and retain talented staff from all groups and help us respond appropriately to changing needs and goals in the community.
I encourage you to learn more about our efforts in the areas of race equity, transparency, accountability and building an inclusive community. at woodburymn.gov/PoliceAccountability and woodburymn.gov/PolicingRaceEquity and woodburymn.gov/community/diversity.php.
Fostering an inclusive and welcoming community that values all residents and their diversity is paramount to the city's continued success. We will continue working to ensure all of our community members feel welcome, safe and connected in Woodbury.
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
June 2020 Public Safety Director Lee Vague interview with Pastor Tim Brewington III