By Brian Robert Calfano, Ph.D.
Working with Iris Roley and Al Gerhardstein has been a meaningful learning experience for me, and I can certainly say that I have learned far more about Cincinnati from the viewpoint of these pivotal stakeholders than I would have initially imagined.
I was approached in early summer 2017 to lead a survey project that would assess community impressions of the Collaborative Agreement, community/police relations, and citizen familiarity with complaint processes put in place since the agreement went into effect in 2002. Both Iris and Al were heavily involved in helping to determine the questions and topics featured in the survey, and Iris was especially instrumental in working to ensure that community members were made aware of the survey’s purpose as part of the larger goal of determining the nature of a collaborative “refresh”.
Data collection ran from June to September, with analysis beginning in mid-September in anticipation of presenting the findings at the city’s first community forum on the collaborative refresh (set for the 25th). Working with Shaonta Allen, a University of Cincinnati graduate in sociology, Iris, Al, and I collaborated daily (sometimes multiple times a day) during the analysis and report write-up period to determine the best ways to communicate the findings and insights to the broadest possible audience.
Throughout the process, I was often reminded through Iris and Al’s abiding concern for the prospect of social justice in Cincinnati that the purpose of my effort was not simply to capture accurately the views of the over 1200 community members who participated in the survey research, but to enlighten and inspire the collective discussion about the Collaborative Agreement’s future in securing a truly just city for all its residents.