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Polco's Top Ten Articles of 2021

5 min read
January 18, 2022

- By Jessie O’Brien -

As communities adapted to a new way of life in 2021, local governments sought out resident input on social and economic issues to help drive positive change. From improving law enforcement to rolling out vaccine plans, community voices informed their leaders on how to take action. Join us as we reflect on last year, 365 days fraught with tragedies and triumphs, with our top ten articles of 2021. 

10. The Public Square Is a Grocery Store

Woman looking at produce section

In the aftermath of the Boulder, Colorado King Soopers shooting, Boulder Assistant City Manager Pam Davis wrote a long-form poem contemplating the tragedy and the value of the community grocery store. The simple yet moving poem offered a sense of hope, making the piece a popular read among Polco subscribers. 

9. Resident Input on COVID-19 Vaccinations Informs Eden Prairie’s Response

Vaccine being given to someone in arm

The beginning of the year brought life-changing news: the Covid vaccine. Local governments had to gauge their communities' feelings toward the vaccines in order to structure their rollout plans. Because Eden Prairie, Minnesota, did not have its own public health department, City leaders used Polco’s Covid-19 Vaccination Survey to steer their decision-making. The survey allowed Eden Prairie officials to tailor and target their messaging to the right crowd.

8. How Collinsville Transformed the Local Economy Through a Diverse Approach to Development

Collinsville neighborhood homes

Collinsville, Illinois officials saw their efforts pay off with regular outreach through The National Community Survey (The NCS). Since 2011, Collinsville resident satisfaction in economic development, work gratification within the community, economic impact on family income, and employment opportunities all increased. Collinsville leaders administered the survey each year to continually gauge results. By focusing on tourism and local development initiatives, the City made incremental improvements with each new survey. 

7. Wicked Problems and the Truth About Polarization in America

American Flag

Polarization remains a focal topic in American politics. But it turns out the silent majority is far more balanced than social media would have us believe. Polco Marketing Director Angelica Wedell and city management professionals from around Colorado discussed this misconception in-depth at the 2021 Colorado City and County Management Association (CCCMA) Emerging Managers conference. Wedell asks these leaders for their take on polarization in one of Polco’s most-read articles of the year. 

6. How Billings Police Department Increases Public Trust Through Resident Engagement

Police officer and dog doing demonstration with family watching

A case study on the Billings, Montana police department building public trust was one of readers' favorite pieces. The Billings P.D. faced a tight budget and uptick in violent crime. The department sought resident feedback to investigate safety needs and derive solutions. Using The National Law Enforcement Survey (The NLES), the department discovered a lack of trust among young people in their community, so they focused efforts towards outreach. Learn how survey results turned into long-term improvements in the Billings community. 

5. Nine Things To Look For in a Community Engagement Platform

Illustration of people working in a team setting

Covid pushed local governments to embrace digital engagement platforms faster than ever before. But how do you choose the best one if you don’t know what to look for? Polco Product Marketing Manager Jen Aceto breaks down nine pillars of effective online community engagement in this popular piece. 

4. Unveiling the 2021 Voice of the People Award Winners

Map of Voice of the People Award Winners

Each year Polco and ICMA recognizes local governments with the highest and most improved ratings from their residents with the Voice of the People Awards. Winners also include municipalities that demonstrate survey-informed change in various areas, such as excellence in community safety, health and wellness transformation, equity and inclusion, and other categories. See the winners and finalists in our fourth most-read article of the year. 

3. Community Equity and Allocating ARPA Funds

Building blocks being turned over

Diversity and equity carry more importance to effective leadership than ever before. In this post, Polco’s VP of National Engagement, Matt Fulton, and government officials around the country discuss equitable ARPA spending strategies. Learn how different municipalities engaged with their communities on the issue and how Polco’s ARPA Engagement Package “levels the playing field.” 

2. Cheers to Consistency: Why It Matters and How to Get There

Puzzle piece missing with consistency in the middle

To align with the 2021 new year resolutions, Polco Director of Customer Success, Heather Locke, detailed what it takes to stay consistent. For local governments, consistency builds trust among residents, makes outcomes more predictable, and creates momentum in the long term. Now that 2022 is here, it’s time to revisit our second-most read article of last year and learn why consistency is key. 

1. Law Enforcement Employee Survey Reveals Silver Linings for Police Departments

Police badge

Over the past few years, nationwide protests, staff shortages, and pandemic-related issues brought increased scrutiny and historic challenges to law enforcement agencies. Results from Polco’s National Employment Survey for Law Enforcement revealed some  positive trends despite the major obstacles. Results revealed officers working today are more satisfied with coaching and mentoring programs, employee initiative encouragement, and recognition for high-performing officers. The changes may point to collective efforts to improve policing and retain quality staff members. As police-related headlines continue to steal the nation’s attention, it is no surprise this article was our most-read story of 2021.

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