Damema Details

Damema Details: Why Your Local Government Needs The National Employee Survey

- By Damema Mann -

Let’s talk about workplace climate surveys for local governments. Here at National Research Center, Inc. (NRC), we have a benchmarking survey called The National Employee SurveyTM  (The NESTM). I’ve touched upon this subject before. But today I want to get into some details about why I think it’s critical for your organization to conduct The NES.

Why The National Employee Survey?

Employee Engagement

Employee engagement is critical to a healthy organization, whether it’s in the public or private sector.  Your employees need to feel heard and valued. In order to connect, they must be engaged. The National Employee Survey is a great tool to engage city staff. It allows employees to let you know where you’re excelling and where they think the organization could be doing a better job. We know that happy, engaged employees help to create more livable communities and provide better customer service for residents. So it is vital for managers to create a thriving environment for employees.


Impartial Third Party

Your organization may already be conducting internal employee surveys. But it is critical to bring in a third party for anonymity and survey quality overall. Employees absolutely must trust that their responses are anonymous, so they can be candid. If they believe their answers can be traced, some employees might not even complete the survey at all. This may leave managers missing feedback from whole segments of the organization who don’t feel comfortable with an internal survey. So an employee survey conducted by a neutral third party encourages participation and honesty, yielding higher quality results overall.


Low Burden

Conducting an employee survey in-house puts a burden on your staff. They could be using their time on other important things. The NES is structured like many of our other benchmarking surveys. It’s designed as a turnkey service. We are pros at breaking down the whole process and walking you through how it all works. The NES is primarily done online, so there are very few hard costs associated with it. This makes it one of our most inexpensive surveys and is accessible to cities and towns of any size. The questionnaire is standardized, so your employees don’t have to spend time researching best practices, what to measure and how to measure it. We’ve already done that for you.



Since the tool is mostly standardized, we ask the same questions to dozens of communities that have participated in The NES all across the country. We’ve created an average rating for each item on the survey with that data, which helps give your results context. The NES is for local governments only. So you’re not benchmarked against private sector companies that might have a lot more resources and perks to offer their employees. That’s not really a fair playing field. What you really want to know is how your organization stacks up against other local governments across the country, and with The NES you can see that.


Actionable Data

The NES gives you high quality results because it’s standardized and conducted by an anonymous 3rd party. We want to help make that data actionable for you. NRC is here to help however we can. If you want us to come out and present results, to facilitate workshops or to run focus groups - we are happy to do that.  Even if you just want some advice over the phone, that’s what we’re here for.


The National Employee Survey


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Top Ten Predictions for Local Government Survey Research

-By Tom Miller-

In the last few years there have been a number of high profile elections worldwide that pollsters got wrong,which has stained the face of the survey industry. The post-mortems on these elections identified a variety of problems unrelated to survey sampling or bad questions.

But even if the appearance of surveyor ineptitude is no more than a mirage, some people have gone sour on surveys. They fail to distinguish surveys from political polls. So what will the near future bring to surveys for local government?

To start, like the stock market, the survey’s reputation runs in cycles. Even now, there are no signs that recent incorrect political predictions have caused survey consumers to turn away. The private sector remains aggressively curious about what people think and do, so it can anticipate what they will buy. Government wants to get into the minds of constituents so it can predict how they will vote, what services they will use or if they will cooperate.


Here are ten specific improvements to expect from the survey research industry throughout 2018.


1. Survey credibility and reliance on data will resurge.

There was a lot of hand wringing about the election predictions that went awry. Survey experts all across the world considered and wrote about what went wrong. In 2018, pollsters are starting to pay much more attention to how surveys are done, who is responding and how the best math should be applied. More researcher caution, correct election calls and better press will elevate public confidence in surveys.


2. Survey results will be presented for enhanced communication.

Visualization of findings will give the ability to view results in a number of different ways, rather than just PDF reports. It will also permit local governments and other stakeholders to treat results as “living” so they can parse results uniquely for different audiences and uses.


3. Non-probability samples will continue to grow.

Panels and open-participation web surveys do not select potential respondents randomly like scientific surveys do. Instead survey participants arrive by their own convenience. However the speed and cost savings to survey online is so much greater than probability sampling that survey researchers will devise more ways to make panels and opt-in responses work.


4. Local government survey methods will become more transparent.

Too many survey companies fail to let readers know how they select respondents, what the precise rate of response was, if and how they weighted the data and other aspects of the survey process. These processes are needed not only to evaluate the validity of the survey, but to be able to replicate the methods should others wish to survey the same population. The American Association of Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) has a Transparency Initiative that is creating healthy pressure on survey researchers to publicly describe their methods.


5. Response rate declines will level off.

In fact, they already have. Industry-wide, telephone response rates fell from an average of about 36 percent in the early 1990’s to just nine percent in 2012. NRC observed address mail survey response decline from about 45 percent to about 28 percent within that same period.They have not declined since, and research demonstrates that even with single digit response rates, valid findings can be obtained.


6. Opinion data will be linked more often to administrative records (and other secondary data).

Telling municipalities that residents feel safe in their community and that their sense of security is among the highest in the country has been essential for sustaining good cities. Linking that data to the comparative cost of the police force, along with known crime rates and numbers of sworn officers per 1000 citizens creates a third dimension of data. This helps managers decide where to put the next dollar and if their perceived strengths are backed up by local experience.


7. Surveys will augment Big Data.

The big data movement to count traffic, transactions or tweets has a ton of useful applications. But they won’t replace knowing what’s happening between the city manager’s ears. Typically big data offer information about behaviors but not resident motivations, hesitations or intentions. Tracking the parking space turnover downtown won’t tell you if drivers admire, fear or loathe the downtown experience.


8. More decisions will be based on survey results.

Survey results won’t just be interesting documents to shelve in the public library. We now have more interactive presentations of findings and better linkage of results to other relevant data. There is also keener understanding in management that residents expect their opinions to be put to good use. This all means that it will be more compelling for government managers to make the case for evidence-based policies, plans, budgets and segmented communications, making survey results essential to different stakeholder groups.


9. Managers will conduct surveys more often.

Many public sector survey clients are switching to annual surveys, rather than surveying once every two or three years. Internal processes are being created that make use of survey findings so staff have a system to appraise and act on what they hear from residents. Lower cost survey methods – opt-in web surveys and panels – will make it easier for local governments to afford more frequent monitoring of taxpayer opinion.


10. Local government survey research will be conducted on more topics.

The most common surveys conducted by cities, towns and counties are the broad citizen surveys designed to monitor government performance and resident preference. More surveys will be conducted for deeper understandings of why residents rate services and conditions at the level given. A broader variety of surveys will also be done to understand the perspectives of employees, business owners and demographic segments of the community. Managers continue to appreciate that this 360 degree view of the community offers a better look at what is needed to thrive and encourages a more integrated approach to improvement.

A version of this article was originally published on PATimes.org.

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If Star Wars Characters Were NRC Surveys

- By Angelica Wedell -

“I’m glad you’re here to tell us things,” said Han Solo to C-3PO while directing a motley crew in his space-ship. 

While there may have been a tone of sarcasm in Solo’s statement, the brass droid’s reports came in handy for the Star Wars heroes time and time again.  Perhaps National Research Center can relate to C-3PO, as a rich and reliable resource for community data. 

Because the Force is unusually strong this weekend, we felt compelled to compare our four main survey products to our favorite Star Wars characters.  If Yoda were a community survey, which one would he be?

There are a lot of characters to choose from, but in the end, there are but four who most embody the spirit of our surveys.




At over 900 years of age, Yoda is the heart and foundation of the Jedi Council as we came to know it in the movies.  He is a fixture in the stories and not only trains new Jedi’s like Luke Skywalker, but is also one of the most powerful Jedi masters ever.  He has been seen holding his own against the strongest emissaries of the Dark Force, coming out of battle with barely a sweat.  Yoda is also highly aware of those around him.  He listens to his pupils and his community and thinks on these perspectives deeply before taking action.  Yoda best represents the Community Assessment Survey of Older Adults™ (CASOA™), which helps communities prepare for the aging population - a population that is redefining advanced years.

Princess Leia

Princess Leia The NCS


Leia is a born leader - a child of the Imperial Senate who grows up to lead the Rebel Alliance against the tyranny of Darth Vader and the evil Emperor.  Despite the monarchical connotation of the title Princess, she embodies the ideals of democracy and the public voice.  While being strong and independent, Leia is also a team player.  She works well with the other characters to more completely represent the public she has devoted herself to.  Princess Leia is The National Citizen Survey™ (The NCS™), NRC’s largest survey product which defines the gold standard in community assessments.  The NCS™ can be conducted on its own, or in conjunction with The NBS™, The NES™ and CASOA™ to see an even bigger picture of the community.

Han Solo

HanSolo TheNBS

The National Business Survey

Owner of the Millennium Falcon space-ship and captain to Chewbacca the Wookiee, Solo is essentially a small business owner.  Introduced to Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia as a rogue, hired to escort a few core-members of the Rebel Alliance, he becomes an essential member to the success of the team.  He manages his mismatched crew - a wookie, a couple of Jedi Knights, a princess and two droids - with relative ease.  Solo has proven his abilities to survive in tough times and his willingness to go down with the ship.  Not afraid to speak up for himself and his ship-mates, Hana Solo is most similar to The National Business Survey™.  The NBS™ is the quickest way to address the needs and demands of local businesses.  Responses from this survey tool have direct implications for the economic success of the community.






It may not be a Jedi, but this rolling droid is a major part of the Star Wars series - appearing in every movie to date, including The Force Awakens.  R2 is the back-bone of productivity and absolutely nothing gets done without it.  The droid has affected the lives of every main Star Wars character including Anakin Skywalker (who, spoiler alert, becomes Darth Vader), Obi-Wan Kenobi, Luke, Leia and even Yoda.  R2-D2 is not just a soulless robot only acting as commanded.  R2 expresses fear, excitement, loneliness and fierce loyalty to its companions.  This droid is team oriented and resourceful, but its thoughts are not always known.  Its language of beeps and whistles are usually translated by the encyclopedic droid C-3PO.  R2-D2 embodies the spirit of The National Employee Survey™.  The NES™ communicates the needs and opinions of employees - the driving forces of resident and customer satisfaction.

Artwork by Angelica Wedell. This is an updated post originally published in 2015.

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Survey Copyright

Does Copyright Apply to Surveys?

-Angelica Wedell-

Just about everything – from books to music and everything in between - is easy to access, download and post online. With memes and other intellectual commodities freely traversing the Internet, copyright laws are easily over-looked. Most people think of published articles, books, pictures and music when they consider media protected by copyright laws. But what about surveys?

Does Copyright Law Apply to Surveys?

The short answer is yes. A great example of a copyrighted survey would be any one of the templated benchmarking survey products, owned by National Research Center, Inc. (NRC). These surveys are intellectual property created and administered by NRC, and thus we remain the copyright holders. Copyright protections apply to printed and digital surveys equally.


The official titles of NRC’s benchmarking surveys are trademarked: The National Citizen SurveyTM (The NCS TM), The National Employee Survey TM (The NES TM), The National Business Survey TM (The NBS TM) and Community Assessment Survey for Older Adults TM (CASOA TM). So when you see these titles, you know the survey is authentic and carries the imprimatur of quality our clients have come to know and trust.

License to Use a Survey

When you enroll in an NRC survey, a limited-time license to use that survey instrument is included. This gives you full rights to publish, promote, and disseminate the survey for the duration of the license.  Once that license has expired, you will need to enroll with NRC to get a new license and conduct the survey.

What About Our Survey Results?

NRC owns copyright privileges over all survey data. However, the license to use survey data and reports of your results does not expire. NRC also respects the privacy of your data and will not distribute individual client or jurisdiction information to any third party without first receiving express permission to do so.

How does NRC comply with Copyright Law?

You’ll notice our website has a great deal of content - articles, videos, webinars, etc. We create our own content in-house, ensuring that we own the copyright privileges to it. When we post content created by others - only with permission or if we have purchased the rights to use that media - we include attribution whenever necessary. If we do not have permission to use a particular piece of media, we will not post it onto our website, which is why we generally do not use Internet memes.

For more on copyright and how it applies to NRC, check out our Terms of Use page.

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Women in Police Leadership Tell Their Stories

Women in Police Leadership Tell Their Stories

Women in Police Leadership Tell Their Stories

– By Angelica Wedell

National Research Center, Inc. (NRC) has joined the efforts of the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) Executive Session on Police Leadership (ESPL), the St. Petersburg College Center for Public Safety Innovation and the League of Women in Government (LWG) to examine diversity and inclusion in law enforcement.

In this video series, NRC interviews accomplished women in positions of leadership. They describe their career paths and challenges they’ve overcome. They explain how gender inclusivity advances the profession of policing overall. And they offer advice for those looking to start or further a career in law enforcement.

Part I


Career Summaries

Chief Tammy Hooper became the first female Chief of Police of the Asheville Police Department on July 20, 2015. Prior to Ashville she served 26 years with the City of Alexandria, Virginia, where she retired as the Deputy Chief of Police. During her tenure in Alexandria, she served in command positions in every bureau of the department, including Patrol, Administration and Investigations. Chief Hooper is a graduate of George Mason University, Session 235 of the FBI National Academy, the Senior Management Institute for Police at Boston University, and the Professional Executive Leadership School at the University of Richmond.

Over the course of her tenure in Asheville, Chief Hooper has led the department through the realignment of patrol districts, reorganization of the department’s structure, assignment of additional officers to the downtown patrol and implemented a host of training and development opportunities for officers and commanders. Chief Hooper has also attended a multitude of community meetings and events and made a great effort to improve citizen engagement throughout Asheville.

Cathy Lanier (current NFL Chief Security Officer) spent nearly 27 years with the Metropolitan Police Department. Serving much of her career working through the ranks in uniform patrol, Cathy served as the Commanding Officer of the Fourth District, one of the largest and most diverse residential patrol districts in the city. She also served as the Commanding Officer of the Department’s Major Narcotics Branch and Vehicular Homicide Units.

Shortly after 9/11, Cathy was named Commander of the Special Operations Division (SOD), where she managed the Emergency Response Team, Aviation and Harbor Units, Explosive Ordinance Division, Horse Mounted and Canine Units, Special Events/Dignitary Protection Branch, the Joint Terrorism Task Force and the Civil Disturbance Units. During her tenure as SOD Commander, she established the agency’s first Homeland Security/Counter-Terrorism Branch and created an agency-wide chemical, biological, radiological response unit known as the Special Threat Action Team.

In 2006, the MPD’s Office of Homeland Security and Counter-Terrorism (OHSCT) was created, and Cathy was tapped to be its first Commanding Officer. A highly respected professional in the areas of homeland security and community policing, she took the lead role in developing and implementing coordinated counter-terrorism strategies for all units within the MPD and launched Operation TIPP (Terrorist Incident Prevention Program).

In 2007 Cathy was unanimously confirmed as the Chief of Police by the Council of the District of Columbia – becoming the first woman to hold that rank in the Department’s history. She retired from the Metropolitan Police Department in September 2016, accepting her current position as the Senior Vice President of Security for the National Football League.

Cathy is a graduate of the FBI National Academy and the federal Drug Enforcement Administration’s Drug Unit Commanders Academy. She holds Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Management from Johns Hopkins University, and a Master’s Degree in National Security Studies from the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. She is certified at the technician level in Hazardous Materials Operations.

Margo Frasier (Sheriff Retired) brings over 35 years of experience in criminal justice and currently serves as a private consultant to law enforcement, corrections agencies and provided litigation support. She served as the City of Austin’s as the director of the Office of the Police Monitor.

From 1997 through 2004, Ms. Frasier served as the Sheriff of Travis County, Texas. She started as a deputy more than two decades earlier and is the only woman to hold the office. As Sheriff, she oversaw more than 1,400 deputies, corrections officers, and other employees with a budget of more than $90 million. Ms. Frasier earned praise for her leadership in implementing community policing and improving the jail system.

Ms. Frasier has been on the faculty of Sam Houston State University, St. Edward’s University, and Austin Community College. Over the years, as a consultant and an attorney, she has provided representation and expert testimony in matters involving criminal justice including civil rights, employment law, law enforcement practices, and corrections practices.

Ms. Frasier (Sheriff Retired) served as treasurer, vice-president, and president of the Major County Sheriffs’ Association. She also served on the boards of the National Sheriffs’ Association, National Center for Women and Policing, Texas Institute for Public Problem Solving, SafePlace, and the Children’s Advocacy Center of Central Texas. In addition, she was recognized twice by the Combined Law Enforcement Association of Texas as Administrator of the Year.

Ms. Frasier holds a Juris Doctor with high honors from Florida State University College of Law and a Bachelors of Science with honors from Sam Houston State University.

Chief Inspector Dorsey joined the Philadelphia Police Department in 1984 and will have thirty-four (34) years of service in May.  She rose through the ranks of the department to reach my current rank, which is the highest Civil Service rank in the police hierarchy. I report to a Deputy Commissioner, who reports to the Police Commissioner.  She currently oversee roughly 200 civilian and sworn employees in the Support Services Bureau. She is responsible for Court Evidence, Reports & Control, Headquarters Security, Impound and Records and Identification.

She was promoted to Police Detective in 1987 and within two years was transferred to the Homicide Division where she worked solving murder cases until promoted to Patrol Sergeant in 1991. As a sergeant she was assigned to Patrol Operations, the Organized Crime Unit and the Detective Bureau. She was promoted to Lieutenant where she served four years in the Patrol Bureau before being promoted to Captain in 1998. As a Captain she commanded two Police Districts – the 23rd and the 14th.  She also worked as a School Safety Captain in West Philadelphia, where she was responsible for the safety of some sixty schools and coordination with the Office of School Safety.  She was promoted to Inspector and became the first African-American female to achieve this rank in the history of the Police Department.  As an Inspector she was assigned to Command Inspections, Internal Affairs Division, and interim commander of the two Patrol Divisions.  In 2010 she was promoted to Chief Inspector. In this rank she held the following positions: Chief of the Narcotics Bureau, Chief of Command Inspections Bureau, and Chief of the Office of School Safety.

Since holding the position of Police Sergeant she has organized and served as instructor on police promotional classes for the ranks of Police Corporal through Police Inspector.  She enjoys giving back to officers; an officer who is prepared and fulfilled is one who best serves the community.  She believes that mentoring and encouraging officers to reach full potential in preparing for success on promotional examinations, is one of the best gifts one can give to the Police Department.

She holds a Bachelors of Science Degree in Criminal Justice from Chestnut Hill College of Philadelphia and a Masters of Science Degree in Criminal Justice from West Chester University.

Part II


Career Summaries

Chief Janeé Harteau (Retired) joined the MPD in 1987 and worked her way through the ranks, beginning as a patrol officer on the street.  In 2012, Chief Harteau was unanimously confirmed by the mayor/city council to become the 52nd and first female Chief of Police in the city’s history.  In February of 2016, she was again unanimously confirmed for a second term as Police Chief.

Chief Harteau has been vocal in issues both locally and nationally that impact law enforcement as a former board member of both the Major Cities Chief’s Association (MCCA) and the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF).  With the roll out of MPD 2.0, Chief Harteau was at the forefront of leading organizational change, the President’s 21st Century Policing guidelines and has often been a keynote speaker at various business, government, educational institutions and women’s organizations.

Chief Harteau has been featured in many local and national publications, and news programs.  Her achievements have earned her numerous community accolades including the MN Women’s Press “2013 Changemaker” of the year award, the Twin Cities Business Journal “2013 Diversity in Business Award”, the Distinguished Alumni Award from St. Mary’s University of Minnesota and the Toastmaster International Communication & Leadership Award both in 2014, and Team Women MN Leader of the Year award in 2015.  In March 2017, Chief Harteau was named #22 on Fortune magazine’s list of the World’s 50 Greatest Leaders. In May 2017, Chief Harteau was named the Woman Law Enforcement Executive of the Year by the National Association of Women Law Enforcement Executives (NAWLEE) and Motorola Solutions.

Chief Harteau holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Police Science and a Master of Arts in Public Safety Administration; both from St. Mary’s University of Minnesota.   She trains law enforcement leaders nationally for IACP Women’s Leadership Institute (WLI), and is an Assistant Professor at St. Mary’s University of Minnesota in the School of Police Science.

Chief Harteau is the Chief Executive Officer and owner of Titanium Leadership, LLC. Titanium Leadership provides motivational speaking, coaching and consulting for public and private sector organizations in many areas including leading through crisis, emotional survival for executives, organizational culture change,  and women in leadership amongst other topics.  Chief Harteau is also the Chief Public Safety Strategist for Vitals Aware Services the developers of the Vitalsapp, technology that helps create safer interactions among law enforcement, first responders and people with mental health and invisible disabilities.

Chief Harteau is a consultant and member of the Customer Executive Advisory Board for TriTech Software Systems. TriTech is currently the undisputed leader with software that covers every facet within the incident-response workflow, including 9-1-1, computer-aided dispatch, records management, analytics and intelligence, etc.

Chief Jeri L. Williams was appointed Police Chief of the Phoenix Police Department in October 2016. She oversees the largest police department in the State of Arizona, which provides law enforcement services to the fifth largest city in the United States. Chief Williams is a 28-year law enforcement veteran and an accomplished police executive. Under her leadership, the Phoenix Police Department is advancing progressive strategies essential in contemporary law enforcement.

She began her law enforcement career with the Phoenix Police Department and retired as an Assistant Chief after 22 years of service following her selection as Oxnard Police Chief.  She served nearly six years as Police Chief in the City of Oxnard, California where she strengthened police-community relationships and oversaw the implementation of police body-worn cameras.

The Arizona Centennial Legacy Project honored Chief Williams as one of Arizona’s 48 Most Intriguing Women. In 2016, Chief Williams was recognized as California Assembly District 44 Woman of the Year for her leadership and outstanding accomplishments as Chief of the Oxnard Police Department.

Chief Williams holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Fine Arts from Arizona State University and a Master’s degree in Education from Northern Arizona University.

Chief Jacobs was appointed Chief of the Columbus Division of Police in 2012. She was the first woman in the Division to be promoted to Commander in 1995, to Deputy Chief in 2009 and to Chief of Police in 2012.  She joined the Columbus Police in October 1979 – only four years after the Division first started training women to work in Patrol.

Throughout her career, Chief Jacobs has been actively involved in numerous projects to improve operations and as an instructor at the Division’s Academy for numerous supervisor development, in-service and recruit classes. Among those accomplishments are her work in helping to set up and start the Division’s Citizen Police Academy, the creation of a separate Domestic Violence report, the complete reorganization of Internal Affairs, implementing the first hands-on drivers training during, serving as host for President Obama when he appeared at the graduation ceremony for the 114th recruit class and in 2009-2010, putting together a new staffing and redistricting plan which included adding two new precincts.

Chief Jacobs holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from The Ohio State University and was a 4-year letter winner for the OSU Women’s Track team. She is a graduate of the Police Executive Leadership College (PELC) and the Certified Law Enforcement Executive program (CLEE). Chief Jacobs serves on the Board of Directors for the Center for Family Safety and Healing, the Board of Trustees for the Ohio Law Enforcement Foundation, the Major Cities Chiefs Association and is a member of the United Way’s Women’s Leadership Council and Pride Council.

Part III


Career Summaries

Chief Jennifer Evans was appointed chief on October 12, 2012She began her career with Peel Regional Police as a Cadet in 1983. Since that time she has been assigned to all areas of the organization including the Uniform branch, Youth Bureau and the Criminal Investigations Bureau.

In 2008 Chief Evans was promoted to Deputy Chief of Police. As Deputy Chief, in October 2010, she was seconded to conduct a review of the Missing Women Investigations in lower mainland British Columbia. She reviewed thousands of documents and conducted numerous interviews with police officers involved in the initial investigation of Robert Pickton prior to his arrest in February 2002. In January 2012 she testified at the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry regarding her report. Chief Evans’ knowledge and experience is recognized both provincially and nationally.

In May of 2013, Chief Evans was appointed to the Order of Merit of the Police Forces by the Governor General of Canada at a ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa and in the past has served as the president of the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police (OACP).  She currently serves as the Canadian Regional Representative on the Major Cities Chiefs Association Board of Directors.

Chief Best was appointed Interim Chief of the Seattle Police Department on January 1, 2018.

Chief Best has served with the Seattle Police Department for 26 years. Most recently, she was the Deputy Chief, overseeing the Patrol Operations, Investigations, Special Operations Bureaus and the Community Outreach section.

Chief Best has completed the Senior Management Institute for Police, the FBI National Academy, and the Criminal Justice Executive Leadership Academy. In 2015, she received the “Newsmaker of the Year” award from the Seattle Black Press. In 2016, Chief Best completed the Major Cities Chiefs Association Police Executive Leadership Institute. She will receive her Master’s in Criminal Justice Leadership from Northeastern University later this year.

Chief Best is a member of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE), the National Latino Police Officers Association (NLPOA), the Law Enforcement Immigration Task Force (LEITF) and the Human and Civil Rights Committee (HCRC) for the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP). She is also on the Trustee Board for Lakeside School, the Visit Seattle Advisory Board, and is the Leadership Council Chair for the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) Seattle. Chief Best is married and has two adult daughters.

Shelagh Dorn, PhD, joined the Greenville, South Carolina Police Department as Director of Strategic Planning & Analysis in 2015, where she handles information technology, crime and intelligence, research, and planning. She began her criminal justice career in 1991 with the Brunswick (Maine) Police, where she became Deputy Marine Warden and reserve police officer in 1994. From 2003 through 2011, as senior supervising criminal intelligence analyst at the New York State Intelligence Center (NYSIC), she managed intelligence analysis and research at the state fusion center. Since 2011, she has been a research fellow at the John F. Finn Institute for Public Safety, a not-for-profit in Albany, NY. As their Assistant Director of Technical Assistance and Training from 2013-2015 she coordinated a dozen grant-funded crime analysts in five cities in upstate New York.

Shelagh graduated from Cornell University, and earned her Master’s and PhD in Criminal Justice at the University at Albany-SUNY. She has served on the Board for the International Association of Law Enforcement Intelligence Analysts (IALEIA) for ten years; and since 2015 has been President of IALEIA. Shelagh’s areas of research interest include: policing and best practices; strategic planning and analysis; homeland security, crime, and intelligence analysis; qualitative analysis and survey research; victimology; trauma-informed policing interventions; policing mental health and addictions; and criminal justice partnerships and collaboration.

In 2004, Lupe Valdez (Retired) was elected Sheriff in Dallas County. She was ultimately elected to four terms as Sheriff of Dallas County and served from 2005-2017.  She was the only Latina Sheriff in the United States and one of very few LGBTQ Americans serving in public office.

While Sheriff, Valdez worked diligently to address deep structural problems that had developed over the preceding 20 years.  The county jail was understaffed, overpopulated, and unsanitary.  With her team and the leadership of the County Commissioners, she succeeded in tackling many of the challenges that had plagued the Department such as improving the quality of care for mentally ill inmates, changing culture, and striving to ensure any individual touched by the criminal justice system was treated with respect and dignity.

Prior to becoming Sheriff, Lupe worked to protect the lives and property of American citizens at home and abroad as a captain in the U.S. Army and as a federal agent in the General Services Administration, Department of Agriculture, the US Customs Service and a Senior Agent in the Department of Homeland Security.

She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from Southern Nazarene University and a Masters Degree in Criminology from UT-Arlington.

Learn More About the BJA Executive Session on Police Leadership

Damema Details Five Ways Local Governments Can Use Survey Data

5 Ways Local Governments Can Use Survey Data

-Damema Details-

You have probably heard a lot about data-based decision making. It’s a practice that is essential for local governments to move their communities forward. For cities and towns that consistently conduct surveys, “data-based decision making” is more than just a buzz phrase. Survey research expert Damema Mann has seen her fair share of results put to good use. In this video, she describes five of the best ways you too can use survey data in your own community.


Use Survey Data To:

Inform Strategic Planning

Whether data come from a survey of residents, employees, local business owners or any other group, the results can help you see the bigger picture. For example, decision-makers may use community survey data when considering new initiatives. Managers may survey employees to help determine ways to increase job satisfaction. A business climate survey can help leaders understand what local businesses need to thrive.


Budget and Allocate Resources

A great many of National Research Center, Inc. (NRC) local government clients rely on survey data to decide how they will allocate funds. Data can indicate which programs may need more or less resources. Assessing how well survey results match up with community or organizational goals is the key to backing a budget with evidence.


Measure Performance

Conducting a survey is a great way to help determine targets to reach for. And gathering trend data over time will allow you to clearly see how programs and services are measuring up to those goals. How well is the city serving its residents? Are your employees happy with their career opportunities? Where does your town need to go from here? Survey data can help answer all these questions.


Engage the Community

It is important for your residents to have the opportunity to share their opinions with you. It is equally important for them to feel confident that their voices are being heard. Within the organization, managers must also engage employees. Ultimately, representative results allow leaders to move beyond reacting to the lone, squeaky wheel. Conducting a survey is a proactive approach to initiating and completing the communication loop with all stakeholders.


Improve Public Trust

A citizen survey can show residents that you want to hear from them. Openly publishing results proves they were heard. Describing to the public how those data will be used in planning and budgeting proves that their voices mattered. Thus, surveys can help greatly to improve civic trust and strengthen community bonds. In the same way, surveys can improve trust within the organization.


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Learning Leadership

-Webinar Show Notes-

Learning leadership is a style and a practice. National Research Center, Inc. (NRC) features special guest speaker Dallas Everhart, Owner and Manager of eStratOp, in this Coffee Break Webinar. Everhart is a leadership coach, Professor of Business and Marketing, former City Manager and City Finance Director.  Everhart reveals proven skills to develop better leadership and increase your professional value through communications, creativity and culture.

Know Your Environment

Know your environment, dig deep and look beneath the surface as a leader. Robert Terry once said, “From confusion comes clarity.” Understand who you’re working with and how they process information.

Leadership is Not Simple

Simple is what you do before you out-source. When you’re green you’re growing, when you’re not you’re rotten. Stay green.

Knowledge is the Foundation

Knowledge exists where truth and perception intersect. The key to learning leadership is critical thinking and creativity.


Stephen Covey said, “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” What others hear is more important than what we say. We need to adapt our communications to fit the listening style of those whom we lead.


Creativity, in other words, is critical thinking. Innovation is the sustainable creativity for change.


Warning: change is hard. You must define your culture: values, beliefs, passion, vocabulary, rituals and actions. This is also known as crafting your “brand identity.”


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This is an updated post originally published in Nov. 2016.

City Manager of the Future

The City Manager of the Future

-By Tom Miller-

The Role of Government

We have all witnessed an ebb in public trust of government, mostly at the federal level, but also infiltrating local government. History, however, proves there has been an enduring role for government and its leaders dating back six hundred years to the Incas, two thousand years to the Romans and even ten thousand years to the Paleo Indians.

The job of the city manager will remain imperative as we look forward even one hundred years, because clans always will need leaders who can manage and distribute critical resources. But the job of the manager will change.

Exponential Data

One of the biggest changes will come from data. In the first ten thousand years of written history, human kind generated five exabytes of data – that’s five quintillion digital pieces of information. That number looks like this: 5,000,000,000,000,000,000. We now generate that amount of data every other day, as the world around us continually advances exponentially. The science taught a child in elementary school today largely will be obsolete by the time that child graduates from college.

Today's leaders still receive data from traditional sources like utility bills and library cards. But a blizzard of information also comes at managers from roads, street lights, cars, water, shirts, watches, their own homes and even from outer space.

The City Manager of the Future

Managers need a new framework to tame these data and harness them for good. Not only should managers rely on traditional staff to help with these data (like IT professionals, auditors, budget analysts and performance managers), but they need to hire evaluators. Evaluators are uniquely trained to create research designs that will help interpret data and distinguish marginal practices from best practices.

A critical change for managers will need to go beyond staff, to one of attitude. The manager of the future will not need to know the right answer. She or he will need to know the right question. The future city manager will need to be willing to be wrong and try again. In essence, the manager of 2050 will need to become the innovator. Failure will be an expectation, and guided by ever-flowing data, the pursuit of improvement will become the definition of success.

This is an updated post originally published November, 2016.

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community survey mistakes to avoid_CC0

Top Ten Common Community Survey Mistakes to Avoid

- By Angelica Wedell

Your local government organization has decided to conduct a community survey. Decision-makers, stakeholders and residents are all eager to see the results that will be used to improve quality of life in the City or Town.

Taking positive action on survey results is the ultimate goal. But many municipalities struggle to incorporate their data with master plans moving forward. With plenty of interest in evidence-based decision-making, how can this be?

Local governments need survey results that are representative and reliable. When data never hatch into action, the fault often lies with the process itself. A cracked survey process can hurt response rates, yield inaccurate data and hinder the usefulness of those results.

So, whether working with an outside firm or conducting a community survey in-house, it is important for Cities and Towns to avoid these ten common mistakes.


Ten Most Common Community Survey Mistakes


1. Residents are contacted only once to take the survey

Whether sending notifications about the survey by mail or online, contacting residents only once just won’t do the trick. People may miss that note or call or simply forget about it. Instead, send multiple contacts to your residents to ask them to take the survey.


2. The survey is not available online

Research indicates that a very large and growing number of residents prefer to engage with their City digitally. And as our society becomes more survey-saturated, it’s hard enough to get people to answer a list of questions in the first place. Even if a resident has some motivation to respond, they won’t likely make the effort if the survey is not easy for them to take. Having the option to survey online will make it more convenient and accessible to a wider range of respondents.


3. The survey is not publicized

If a survey is conducted, but nobody knows about it, it might as well have never existed. A robust response rate depends on a strong marketing effort. Make sure to use all of your existing communications channels (like the Town newsletter), press releases and social media to get the word out about your survey.


4. Questions contain government jargon, acronyms and other terms unfamiliar to most residents

Government has a language all its own. And when that language is second-nature to City employees with insider knowledge, it can be easy to forget that the average resident may not be familiar with it. If you would not use a term at a holiday dinner party, it’s probably best not to use that term on a community survey.


5. The survey is too long and complex

A long questionnaire with complex wording can quickly cause survey fatigue. Respondents feeling tired by the survey may leave it unfinished or select answers without reading them first, just to get to the end. You can avoid this by keeping survey questions clear, concise and limited in number. Even a comprehensive survey should not take more than 15 – 20 minutes for the average resident to complete.


6. The pool of responses does not reflect the whole community

Some demographics are harder to reach than others. Even so, improving the community for everyone requires feedback from all types of residents. Traditionally hard-to-reach demographics include those whose first language is not English, racial and ethnic minorities, lower income residents and youth. To garner more participation from these groups, Cities and Towns can survey in multiple languages, partner with trusted community leaders, oversample attached units and weight the data appropriately. This will help to ensure the survey data are representative of the entire community.


7. It is assumed that surveys given by phone interviews will get the same results as surveys taken alone by mail or web

When answering interview questions in-person on the phone, people have a natural tendency to give answers they think the other person wants to hear. Survey researchers call this social desirability bias. This documented phenomenon has been observed in political poll results leading to inaccurate predictions. When it comes to community surveys, responses tend to skew more positive during phone interviews. But people are more honest when they take the survey themselves by mail or web. So it is best to conduct self-administered surveys (mail or web) that don’t involve an interview, to get the most candid data possible.


8. Questions with answers that are not really wanted or needed are asked

It can be tempting to ask a survey question because you think the answers will support a decision the City has already made. But what if the results come back negatively? Residents can feel betrayed when it looks clear to them that their feedback really doesn’t matter. And that is devastating to the level of trust they have in their local government. Also, unnecessary questions can simply be a waste of time. If your Town has never seen snow, it’s best not to ask questions about snow removal services. Don’t ask what you won’t use.


9. Survey results are available for internal eyes only

A City or Town may feel reluctant to share survey data when ratings aren’t as high as they hoped. But it is vitally important for local governments to demonstrate transparency and make the results available to the public. This is one of the greatest ways to build a stronger sense of civic trust within the community. Also, remember there is no such thing as “bad” data. A lower rating is merely an opportunity to do better. Residents will respect your organization more for acknowledging their feedback and taking action to improve.


10. There is no vision for how the results will be used

The number one reason why survey results may never see action is lack of vision. Knowing ahead of time the kinds of answers you need will help you craft better questions. Having a plan in place will keep the process timely and efficient. Communicating your intent to residents will increase public trust. Using the final results to strategize will be what ultimately leads to improvements that will stick for the long-haul.


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Greg Diggs at NRC Picture Collage

NRC and the Wild Side: Greg Diggs Remembered

- Song By Greg Diggs -


Working for the City every day.

Miller thought he had another way.

Packed up all the skills he had;

Now papa’s got a brand new bag.

He said, “Hey ‘Shell, take a walk on the wild side.”

She said, “Hey Tom, take a walk on the wild side.”


And they both sang:

Doo, doo, doo. Doo de doo. Doo, doo, doo. Doo de doo, dooooo


NRC made cities take a look.

Citizen Surveys? They wrote the book.

A little weight there

And a little scale here:

Making public opinion clear.

They said, “Hey, babe! Take a walk on the wild side.”

They said, “Hey cities, take a walk on the wild side.”


And the cities sang:

Doo, doo, doo. Doo de doo. Doo, doo, doo. Doo de doo, dooooo


Been workin with Aspen for a while;

Servin up that Random Digit Dial.

Stressin out when response rates fall;

Here researchin all those calls.

We say, “Hey Hank! Take a walk on the wild side.”

We say, “Hey Trey!  Take a walk on the wild side.”


And they both sing:

Doo, doo, doo. Doo de doo. Doo, doo, doo. Doo de doo, dooooo


Measure what matters is how we keep the score.

Competence is the game we play for sure.

Needs Assessments, Evaluation

Resident Ratings and Appreciation,

We say, “Hey Ed! Take a walk on the wild side.”

We say, “Hey Soo! Take a walk on the wild side.”


And they both sing:

Doo, doo, doo. Doo de doo. Doo, doo, doo. Doo de doo, dooooo


And the staff sang:

Doo, doo, doo. Doo de doo. Doo, doo, doo. Doo de doo, dooooo


About Greg Diggs

- By Angelica Wedell -

Dr. Gregory Diggs while at NRCDr. Gregory Diggs is remembered as a community leader, an advocate for racial justice, a trusted voice in podcasting, and a beloved friend and former colleague of National Research Center, Inc. (NRC).

Following his passing in February of 2018 at age 55, NRC staff say Diggs made a lasting impact during his time as a survey researcher from 2003 to 2005. “Always even, thoughtful, smart and easy, Greg was a colleague that everyone loved. He mentored younger staff on both work and life,” said NRC President Tom Miller. “He was a real voice of reason and empathy.”

“Greg was one of the kindest souls I knew and was always looking to do good for others,” said Senior Research Associate Laurie Urban.

“Greg was the person I would go to when I was stressed out about a work project,” said Vice President Michelle Kobayashi. “He would remind me to focus on the big picture. He was a true sage.”

Director of Research Erin Caldwell recalls the dedication Diggs showed his local government clients. “Greg brought a sense of joy to work, and a commitment to his clients and the people they served. He had a wonderful way of building connections,” she said.

Diggs has left a legacy, both at NRC and in the greater Colorado community. “Greg was not only a great teacher on issues of race, culture and inclusivity, he was a great teacher on life. He was kind, passionate, creative and diplomatic,” Kobayashi added.

Gregory Diggs is survived by his children, Langston and Clarke, and their mother Alyson Shupe (also a former NRC colleague). In this time of remembrance, our thoughts are with them.


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