Citizens Engagement Advisory and Review Commission

The Citizens’ Engagement Advisory and Review Commission (CEARC) is an advisory body of the Hampton City Council. Council convenes the CEARC (formerly the Ad Hoc Leadership Group) for the express purpose of assisting the Council and city manager in crisis review, prevention, management and communication.  The CEARC 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 CEARC suggests there is a role for them to play in a crisis situation and the Council concurs. 

The CEARC is not engaged to review minor, individual disagreements citizens may have about how the city handles routine issues. Similarly, the CEARC does not review broader policy issues that other Boards and Commissions have undertaken (such as homelessness or youth violence prevention). Rather, the CEARC reviews specific events that have the potential to divide the community along any type of ethnic, gender, social or cultural lines.

Visit hampton.gov/unity to learn more about programs and services offered by the Citizens' Unity Commission Department.

Meetings


The CEARC generally meets on the third Tuesday of every month at 6:30 p.m. in the Ruppert Sargent Building.

Members


Agendas

Role of CEARC


The chief roles of the CEARC in crisis review, prevention, management and communication are as follows:
  • To understand all dynamics of the conflict in question 
  • 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 CEARC involvement and engagement 

Stage 1: Monitoring


The CEARC is in a continuous monitoring role, seeking to understand general community sentiment around potential divisive issues. The CEARC 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 CEARC is monitoring to determine whether any such situations exist.

Stage 2: Situational Assessment


If the Council, Manager or CEARC perceives (and Council concurs) the potential for such division as a result of a specific event, stage 2 is initiated. In stage 2, the CEARC 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 CEARC determines that escalation is unlikely, the review will end. CEARC may make recommendations to the Council and Manager resulting from their review, even if the situation is unlikely to escalate. If the CEARC 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 CEARC 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 CEARC 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.