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 reforms within the Chicago Police Department and ultimately restore 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.

Creating a forum for change

Grisko started by designing 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 (through the Task Force Report), Grisko handled all aspects of the news conference, as well as editorial board meetings and calls.

Laying the groundwork for collective reform

More than 750 people attended the Task Force forums. The interest and enthusiasm generated by the Task Force’s Report and the community engagement along the way led to many previously skeptical organizations now wanting to get involved and play a role in moving the recommendations forward.

The Task Force Report generated extensive local, national and even international media coverage. The coverage, including positive editorials in the New York Times and two in the Chicago Tribune, was accurate, impactful and placed Chicago in the spotlight of police accountability issues and the need for change.