Citizens Engagement Advisory Commission (CEAC)

The Citizens’ Engagement Advisory Commission (CEAC) is an advisory body of the Hampton City Council. The City Council convenes the CEAC, which was formerly called the Ad Hoc Leadership Group, for the express purpose of assisting the Council and City Manager in crisis prevention, management and communication. The CEAC serves at the pleasure of the City Council and is “activated” by Council, via the City Manager, when the Council or Manager perceives a need and/or when the CEAC suggests there is a role for them to play in a situation and the Council concurs.

Meetings


The CEAC generally meets on the third Tuesday of every month at  at 6:30 pm.

Role of CEAC


The chief roles of the CEAC in crisis prevention, management and communication are as follows:
  • To understand all dynamics of the conflict in question (i.e. What actions caused the concern?; Why were those actions taken?; Which segment of the community is concerned and why?; What are the feelings of other segments of the community?; What can be done to increase understanding around the event?; etc.)
  • To undertake fact finding to further this understanding
  • To communicate with all audiences about the facts of the situation with a specific goal of dispelling rumors and clarifying facts
  • To help instill a sense of calm in the community while facts develop
  • To make recommendations to the Council and City Manager about new or different approaches to avoid future conflicts. 

Four stages of CEAC involvement and engagement


Stage 1: Monitoring


The CEAC is in a continuous monitoring role, seeking to understand general community sentiment around potential divisive issues. The CEAC has a city-wide perspective, meaning that they can be potentially called to, or ask to be convened to, review a situation involving any city department or even conflict between private parties that threatened to divide the community. In stage 1, the CEAC is monitoring to determine whether any such situations exist.
[Note: the CEAC is not engaged to review minor, individual disagreements citizens may have about how the city handles routine issues. Similarly, the CEAC does not review broader policy issues that other Boards and Commissions have undertaken (such as homelessness or youth violence prevention). Rather, the CEAC reviews specific events that have the potential to divide the community along any type of ethnic, gender, social or cultural lines. ]

Stage 2: Situational Assessment


If the Council, Manager or CEAC perceives (and Council concurs) the potential for such division as a result of a specific event, stage 2 is initiated. In stage 2, the CEAC begins more direct engagement with individuals or groups to gather a basic understanding of what has happened with a goal of better assessing whether the situation is likely to escalate or not. If the CEAC determines that escalation is unlikely, the review will end. CEAC may make recommendations to the Council and Manager resulting from their review, even if the situation is unlikely to escalate. If the CEAC determines that escalation is likely, stage 3 is initiated.

Stage 3: Situational Review


This stage is initiated when a divisive situation appears headed for escalation to a sub-group level, meaning that the event may not lead to citywide divisiveness or concern but nevertheless is concerning to a large number of people in the community. During a Stage 3 review, the CEAC will conduct a review by interviewing impacted individuals and those with direct involvement in a situation as appropriate and permitted under applicable law and personnel policies. The goal of a Stage 3 review is to fulfill the chief roles of the CEAC as outlined above.

Stage 4: Full Activation


A full Stage 4 activation occurs when a specific event is of a citywide concern with various segments of the community and the community is culturally, socially or ethnically divided over the situation. The goal of a Stage 4 activation is the same as a Stage 3 situational review, with the only difference being the scale and intensity of the attention provided.

Authorized Reviews


Authorized reviews may occur in two ways:
  • When the Council or Manager perceives a need for the CEAC to aid in crisis prevention, management or communication it will authorize a review and initiate a Stage 2, Stage 3 or Stage 4 review as described above. The authorization of such a review will be communicated to the CEAC via the City Manager, City Manager Liaison, or Council Liaison. The communication will broadly describe the issue and the Stage of review that has been authorized by Council. The City Manager Liaison and/or Council Liaison will act to facilitate communication between Council and the CEAC. Upon Council request, the CEAC may also present and report its findings and recommendations to the City Manager and/or Council.
  • When the CEAC perceives a need and a role for the CEAC to play in a situation beyond the Stage 1 level described above, the CEAC shall vote on whether to communicate that need to Council. If a majority of CEAC members vote for such a communication the Chairperson for the CEAC shall present a communication to the City Manager, City Manager Liaison or Council Liaison describing the situation and which Stage of involvement the CEAC believes to be appropriate. The communication from CEAC shall be shared with Council and Council will determine if it desires for CEAC to become involved in the situation beyond a Stage 1 level. If Council desires a greater involvement it will communicate to CEAC through the City Manager, City Manager’s Liaison or Council Liaison what stage of involvement Council deems appropriate.