Mar. 28—Post time-sensitive announcements to Facebook in both English and Spanish. Make sure all city committee meetings are posted on the city of Dalton's online calendar. Create more digital content for social media.
Those are some of the preliminary recommendations presented Tuesday at a meeting of Dalton's Public Safety Commission by consultant Jackie Killings, who has more than 20 years of experience in business and is active in a number of local nonprofits. The City Council approved a $16,500, nine-month contract with Killings in October to review its operations, with a particular focus on communication and engagement with the community.
Killings said it is vital that communications with the public, particularly time-sensitive announcements, be done in both English and Spanish.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 46.3% of Dalton's 33,665 residents are Hispanic.
"That's something that (Dalton Communications Director Bruce Frazier) had already identified as a need," she said.
Killings said until artificial intelligence translation improves this should be a priority.
She also said the city's online listing of meetings of its various committees (daltonga.gov/meetings) should include all of them.
"I see many of them on there but not all," she said.
She said the city should create content, such as video profiles of volunteer efforts, for social media. She said potential employees often check out a city's social media before applying for a job.
The study grew from protests last summer across the nation and in Dalton following the death of Minneapolis resident George Floyd, a Black man who died in police custody on May 25 when a white officer knelt on his neck for about nine minutes. The trial of the officer, Derek Chauvin, who was fired, is in progress with jury selection recently concluding. Chauvin is charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and manslaughter.
City Council member Annalee Harlan, the council's liaison to the Public Safety Commission, said council members identified a need to improve communications with the community.
"If we don't tell our story, other people will tell our story," she said. "We have to be thinking ahead of any acute event that might happen. Open communication and transparency are vital."
Harlan said one thing Killings will be focusing on is youth engagement and finding ways to educate young people and others on how city government works and how to reach out to council members or the pertinent city department if they have questions or concerns. That could include working with the Parks and Recreation Department.