Aurora joined the Strong Cities Network in July 2016, building on rich experience in working to support a strong and cohesive community in which everybody has a stake. Situated near to Denver, Aurora is Colorado’s third largest city, with a council/manager government, which combines the political leadership of elected officials with the managerial expertise of an appointed local government manager. Aurora’s Comprehensive Strategic Plan emphasises the formation of liveable, full-service neighbourhoods in which each resident has a right to expect a safe city. Nearly 60% of the city’s general fund budget supports Aurora’s public safety functions.
In recognition of its local programming, Aurora was awarded the 2017 City Cultural Diversity Award by the National League of Cities. The award honours municipal programmes that encourage citizen involvement and cities that develop creative and effective programmes to improve and promote cultural diversity through a collaborative process with city officials, community leaders and residents.
Under the Obama Administration, the US approach to CVE at a local level was outlined in the 2011 White House report, Empowering Local Partners to Prevent Violent Extremism in the United States. With the central aim of supporting efforts to prevent radicalisation and recruitment and build community resilience across the US, this report outlines a Federal role in facilitating and supporting strong communities by fostering partnerships and dialogue between mayors and local governments, police departments, the private sector, local service providers, civil society, academia and others in a position to help prevent violent extremism and catalyse localised, bottom-up approaches. It recognises that local communities are uniquely positioned to carry out CVE, more reliably identifying specific issues and tailoring a community-orientated approach to their individual context and circumstances.
The Obama Administration continued to expand Federal support for local CVE efforts, hosting a three-day White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism in 2015, bringing together Federal, local and international leaders to develop community-led approaches and ensure a proactive effort to counter online messaging and recruitment by extremist groups. See here for more on the 2015 White House Summit and related initiatives.
The Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security, and the National Counterterrorism Center also supported pilot local CVE programmes in the cities of Boston, Los Angeles and Minneapolis-St. Paul in 2015. More information on these pilots and other Federal CVE support can be found here.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) also launched a multi-agency CVE Task Force to support a whole-of-government approach to CVE, strengthen strategic planning and assess and evaluate CVE efforts. See here to read a copy of the 2016 DHS Homeland Security Advisory Council CVE Subcommittee report here, evaluating domestic CVE programming across the US.
2016 also saw the publication of the Department of State & US AID Joint Strategy on Countering Violent Extremism, which highlights the Strong Cities Network.
Much of Aurora’s CVE-relevant work falls within the remit of the Office for International and Immigrant Affairs, which takes a lead on integration and community cohesion, in cooperation with other municipal agencies, NGOs and CSOs. The many activities and programmes that fall within this remit reflect City Hall’s prioritisation of public safety, anti-polarisation, and efforts to ensure all newcomers to the city feel fully engaged in civil, economic and cultural life, and connected to local services. The city has developed a Comprehensive Strategic Plan, outlining their overall approach, and incorporating input from the local community. Updates on how the plan is progressing can be viewed here.
This organisational chart gives an overview of all the city departments and bodies involved in community building and integration:
KEY SOURCES & FURTHER READING
Official Strategy Documents & Action Plans
Other Resources [scn_read_more]