The city of Dayton recently hired an outside consultant that will provide training in various areas that they hope will improve diversity and cultural awareness among employees.
Police officers and other city employees will learn to avoid implicit-bias. They will be trained in areas such as growing cultural competency and diversity and inclusion, officials said.
Consultant Daniel Juday will also help employees build more meaningful and trusting relationships, and that should be a good starting point as the city prepares to work on a five-point plan for police reforms and other changes, said Dayton City Manager Shelley Dickstein. The city recently approved a $68,500 purchase order for Juday’s services.
Dayton officials had previously planned to use Juday’s services. However, recent protests and national social unrest created a sense of urgency to get Dayton employees on the same page in an effort effectively engage in work around institutional racism and equity issues, Dickstein said.
But members of the advocacy group Neighborhoods Over Politics questioned the value of these services, and asked why the city did not issue a request for proposals to give minority businesses a shot at winning the contract.
“A training designed to establish a common language for city officials and employees will not work to eliminate the problem of racially biased policy, practice and implementation,” according to a statement from Jamica Garrison and Shenise Turner-Sloss with Neighborhoods Over Politics.
Professional services contracts do not require the city to go out to bid, and the purchase order pays for ongoing work, Dickstein said.
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In the last two years, the city of Dayton has been working to provide implicit bias training to employees, including department directors and division managers and supervisors, Dickstein said.
Juday, who served as the director of the Ohio Diversity Council, provided the initial training, and will work with the police department and other staff across the organization so they have the same vocabulary and foundation of understanding, she said.
Juday also will facilitate discussions to give employees opportunities to process and share their feelings about this historic time of protests and calls for human and civil rights changes, Dickstein said.
The purchase order is a continuation of ongoing training, and in no way means the city won’t also offer additional training in the near future when it tackles police reform and improving racial equity in policies and service-delivery, she said.
But before the city can move forward to address those critical issues in a thoughtful way, city employees need to be engaged and they need to be able to express their feelings and frustration in a trusted space, Dickstein said.
“There’s a lot of healing that needs to take place right now,” she said.
Juday’s work has been well received by staff, and he knows how to create a safe, trusted space where employees can process the strong emotions that many of them are feeling, Dickstein said.
But Garrison and Turner-Sloss of Neighborhoods Over Politics said it is a mistake to hire a white male consultant from outside the city without issuing a request for proposals that allows local minority-owned businesses to compete.
They said the city isn’t valuing local minority-owned organizations at a time of civil unrest and racial tensions, and they say the training that city has done so far has been ineffective at making it a more racially diverse organization.
“Ultimately, this training, as described, will arm city employees with the linguistic tools (anti-racist vocabulary) to pacify the very same residents that they serve, rather than become accountable for changing the policy and practices,” according to a statement from Garrison and Turner-Sloss. Turner-Sloss unsuccessfully ran twice for the city commission.
Juday told this newspaper that he and no one he’s spoken to and worked with at the city believe that meaningful reform and effective change will happen through one-and-done training.
He is working with the police department to create some shared vocabulary and nuanced education around diversity, bias and equity, Juday said. That should help support them in many ways, and will move the city toward equitable safety and protection across Dayton, he said.
In addition, Juday said he is a passionate and vocal advocate for focusing attention on Black lives, citizens and neighborhoods.
“I’m honored to be a part, clear just a part, of many people working to make our cities better places to work, live and play for everyone,” he said.
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