Analysis of a local policy or public problem

(10 pages, not including abstract or references) asks students to research and analyze a local policy or public problem. As discussed at the beginning of the syllabus, never has local government had to deal with so many critical all at once, especially at a time of diminishing resources. Issues might include crime and policing, livable or minimum wage policies, public health mandates like wearing masks, jail inmates contracting COVID, saving small businesses from closure, transgender health issues, sex trafficking, domestic violence, stopping the spread of HIV, public school inequities, and urban redevelopment. Given all that cities and counties do, there certainly will be a topic that interests you greatly. Counties, in particular, work on social and health issues, which creates many opportunities. I have found it best for students not to write about homelessness because it is way too broad and complex for a 10-page paper.) When possible, go narrow. For example, environmental protection is too broad but saving Coyote Valley is manageable; immigration is too broad but consequences of San Jose being a sanctuary city is doable. Black Lives Matter is quite all encompassing but reform of the San Jose Police Department is doable. Please share with me your paper topic before you start writing so I can make sure you are on the right track.


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I anticipate that many of you will want to write about the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on local governments. Though this is obviously a very relevant subject, please approach me first to approve your specific paper topic. As with any other issue, your paper topic must be quite specific. If you are discussing the COVID-19 pandemic, you must write about a specific aspect of its impact on local governments.


When researching and writing your paper, keep in mind three central points: 1) what is the precise issue or thesis of your paper; 2) whose problem is it to solve and why; and 3) what other levels of government or agencies can help solve it. The main point of this is to realize there is a web of policymakers involved in local issues. Throughout the semester we will study who all the players are and the role that each of them play.


You will need to include 6 citation sources, with at least three from the readings and/or lecture and three from peer reviewed articles or three from local and state reports. The last is emphasized because if there are not city/county staff memos or articles on the subject it is not an issue being addressed at the local level. At best, the issue should have come before the city or county and you can include the debate that occurred at the meeting. Again, this is way you should watch a council or government meeting early on in the semester.


Grading on the assignment will be based on the clarity and strength of your thesis statement, the quality of your research, and the overall strength of your analysis.


Points I want you to focus on:


Kindly write about San Jose Police Department being understaffed. Focus Primarily on the 911 dispatchers

Make recommendations on how to fix the issue and support with evidence


Use the following report as a guide to the problem



You can also write about how the reaction of the police department to the audit

How is the police department doing now with 911 dispatchers?

How did the mayor or the city council react?

How can the situation be improved? Include evidence, you can look at other cities data and compare

If you propose that the city should get a bigger budget, you need to then also write about from what other departments the money could be pulled?

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