Conducting surveys and training among law enforcement entities and social service organizations provides an opportunity to discover the perceived or known extent of the local problem from the perspective of first responders, and helps to form a training strategy for increasing awareness and buy-in based on the results.
High-level meetings are also important. Through the MOU process, one task force committed its executives (U.S. Attorney, NGO executive director, sheriff, police commissioner, regional FBI/HSI/Special Agent in Charge) to meet twice yearly to discuss overarching goals of the task force.
Data obtained from community assessments or internal trainings can help to raise leadership’s awareness of the crime in their jurisdiction. Internal leadership must believe in the urgency of response and necessity of the task force.
Task forces have increased internal leadership buy-in and support through the work they do. Often, once cases are prosecuted successfully, internal buy-in increases.
Continue to reach out to external partners. External buy-in from agencies that refuse or are reluctant to actively participate with a task force can be gained through routine calls to “check in” or through casual coffee meetings with team members intending to build confidence and rapport.
There is always a need for training, outreach, and public awareness efforts. While establishing cases may be slow-going, membership buy-in can be maintained by concentrating efforts to set goals in the subcommittees.
Both external and internal buy-in and participation of leadership can be a challenge for task forces. Without support from internal senior leadership in participating agencies, task force members often find they are not able to dedicate the time needed to the task force. Without support from city leaders, many citywide agencies will be limited in their abilities to support a task force. Several task force leaders attribute the lack of buy-in to:
Limited resources (staff and time);
Conflict or general difficulty with other service providers;
Fear of unfavorable reputation among clients (for example, concern about the perception by their clients that they are supporting federal immigration enforcement efforts);
Competing priorities (leadership may prioritize addressing other crimes);
Prioritization of one vulnerable population over another; or
Concern that participation on a task force may conflict with their primary mission.
It is essential to have and maintain the buy-in and participation of the members themselves through meaningful agendas and committee activities. One member reported continuing to attend the monthly meetings because of excitement and hope for what could be done through the task force’s efforts; then, after a year of the group seemingly meeting for the sake of meeting, the member resigned because a perceived lack of productivity. One way to avoid this problem is to conduct regular surveys or general discussions with the entire group to ensure that individuals are getting what they need to participate meaningfully and that core objectives of the task force are being met.