Englewood recognized for efforts on police reform, COVID, flood readiness

National competition names the city a finalist in effective governing


A civic-minded nonprofit has recognized Englewood as a finalist for an award that spotlights cities around the nation for how well they address challenges in their communities.

“The All-America City Award recognizes communities that leverage civic engagement, collaboration, inclusiveness and innovation to successfully address local issues,” the National Civic League says on its website.

Since 1949, the organization has recognized cities for their approaches to solving problems. Englewood garnered a spot as one of 20 finalists nationwide, the city said in a news release. It was not among the 10 winners, which included Wheat Ridge.

Englewood chalked up the finalist recognition to its efforts on police reform, economic recovery amid the pandemic and emergency preparedness in the years after the 2018 flood that devastated many residents.

In years past, Colorado winners included Aurora in 2008, Colorado Springs in 1981, Grand Junction in 1962, and Lakewood in 2011 and 2016, according to the NCL website.

“Being named a finalist for the All-America City award was a testament to the accomplishments we've achieved by bringing together citizens, businesses, local government and nonprofits,” Englewood Mayor Linda Olson said in the news release. “Through collaboration, the entire community benefits. I am sincerely honored that Englewood was a finalist.”

Here's a look at the efforts in Englewood that the city highlighted as part of what made it competitive.

Focus on flood

After a flood swept through Englewood in July 2018 — leaving one woman dead and dozens tending to storm damage — then-City Manager Eric Keck noted the city's need for a new emergency operations plan and Englewood's lack of an emergency manager. He also said that the city's storm drain system was built in the 1950s to 1970s and needed upgrading.

Since that tragedy, a Storm Water Analysis and Alternatives Feasibility study was commissioned by the city and presented to city council in July 2019. City officials have discussed raising stormwater utility rates and spending funds on projects that could improve the drainage system.

Englewood also brought Lisa Clay on board as the city's emergency management coordinator in 2019, partnering with Arapahoe County to do so.

The 2021 All-America City theme was “Building Equitable and Resilient Communities,” said Tim Dodd, Englewood's assistant to the city manager. “The National Civic League reviewed applications that demonstrated work towards equity and resiliency, both of which depend on an inclusive approach to civic engagement.” 

Dodd added: “While we do not know specifically why we were considered a finalist, we believe that the projects included in our application, including the project related to emergency preparedness and resiliency, met the application requirements that demonstrated our commitment to inclusion and equitability and community engagement.” 

Police reform

After the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police last year, the Englewood Police Department took steps to continue its commitment to “continuous review of policing policies and community engagement,” Dodd said.

Those steps included a panel discussion with policing and community engagement experts and a town-hall meeting on policing, which also included a poll and feedback from the community, according to Dodd.

“After receiving this information, the city established a Police Reform Task Force in August 2020 to provide (city) council with recommendations regarding training, hiring and discipline, use of force policies and procedures, and alternate policing,” Dodd said.

Council selected local stakeholders in the nonprofit service provider and health care sectors, resident or business representatives, city council members, and police department representatives. The task force met for two to three hours each week between Sept. 9 and Oct. 14, Dodd said.

“The work of the task force ended, and (its) recommendations were provided to council,” Dodd said. “The police department is currently working on implementing recommendations of the task force, and they have been integrated into the City of Englewood 2020-2022 Strategic Plan.”

To see the city's report on the task force's recommendations and other information, see here and click on the middle of the image of the document about halfway down the page.

Helping hand

In the earlier stages of the pandemic, Englewood spent part of its share of funds from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act on rounds of grants for small businesses and nonprofits, along with rent assistance. 

“In addition to emergency preparedness and police reform (efforts), the city also highlighted its work to support local businesses … particularly related to assisting businesses with the impacts of COVID-19,” Dodd said.

“We believe that all three of our projects demonstrated the City of Englewood's inclusive and resilient approach, focused on community engagement, to solving challenges,” Dodd said.


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