Two innovative programs recognized by the National Association of Counties

Monday, June 30, 2014

The Hennepin County Attorney’s Office has received two awards from the National Association of Counties for two innovative programs.

The awards were for the office’s Reducing Gun Violence Initiative and Culture Change through Committed Leadership Program. The gun violence initiative won in the association’s criminal justice and public safety category and the latter won in the personnel management, employee training and benefits.

“I am proud of the hard work and dedication of the staff in the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office,’’ county attorney Mike Freeman said. “We not only strive to do the right thing every day in everything we do but to reach out for new and creative efforts to help make our community more safe. It’s nice that outside organizations recognize the pioneering work we are doing here.”

The initiative to reduce gun violence was spurred by unsuccessful efforts at the legislature to pass several laws to combat gun violence. After that setback, an internal committee made three proposals to reduce gun crime in Hennepin County. First, the office worked with local playwright Syl Jones and Mixed Blood Theater to write a script and perform the play Stars & Stripes in middle schools and high schools throughout the county. Fifteen performances were held in a dozen schools followed by classroom discussion led by county attorney employees with the students about bullying, snitching, gun violence and how they can lead the change. 

Second, the county attorney’s office worked with a local video production company to create a series of videos to be pushed out through social media. A marketing company conceived the theme for the overall campaign. Their “Changethestory-Hennepin” includes a website and a portable pop-up booth that accompanied the performances of the play and will be used at events such as National Night Out to engage youth. A summer social media outreach campaign is currently in the works. The videos and everything from the campaign can be seen at www.changethestoryhennepin.com.

The Culture Change Through Committed Leadership Program began with staff across the office meeting to develop ways to increase our capacity to provide culturally competent services to the citizens we serve, and to create and sustain a diverse and inclusive organizational culture that utilizes the potential of our diversity and provides an opportunity for all employees to achieve excellence in their jobs.

In 2013 we introduced Phase 1 of the high priority recommendations that resulted from the work of six committees and more than 100 employees from all job classes.  Implementation committees have been formed to ensure progress continues on the original recommendations. 

The National Association of Counties represent and assist county governments in pursing excellence in public service in order to produce healthy, vibrant, safe and resilient counties.