CHDS Alums Making a Difference: DC Metro Police Duo Tap Emergence Change Initiatives to Improve Communications

Two Washington DC Metropolitan Police Department representatives are using their Center for Homeland Defense and Security Emergence change initiatives to upgrade their department’s internal communications network. 

CHDS alums Evelyn Lopez (Emergence cohort 2202) and Sgt. Antonio McKnight (Emergence cohort 2202) have focused their proposals on upgrading the “outdated” DC Metro Intranet system and using the upgraded system to develop a special Civil Disturbance Unit “real-time” informational bulletin.

DC Metro PD Manager of Internal Communications Evelyn Lopez

Both CHDS alums said their Emergence Program experiences played a key role in their change initiatives and in their careers moving forward.

Lopez said the pursuit of her CHDS Emergence change initiative allowed her to “partner with colleagues across several units with whom I hadn’t previously had the chance to collaborate, creating valuable professional bonds.” Of particular note, she said, was her collaboration with her own unit colleague—DC Metro PD Office of Communications marketing specialist  Kevin Palmer—with whom she had never worked before. She said she also was able to work with “unfamiliar” departments including Information Technology and IT teams from local government agencies, which helped her understand their roles and responsibilities better. 

At CHDS, Lopez said the opportunity to present her change initiative to Emergence Program classmates gave her a “boost of confidence” that she said she believes will “positively impact the internal communications realm” of DC Metro PD.

“The entire experience was invaluable and I look forward to future collaborations of this kind,” she said, including continuing the collaboration with fellow CHDS Emergence alum McKnight. 

According to McKnight, the CHDS Emergence Program has “profoundly impacted my change initiative in unexpected ways. Through this program, I had the opportunity to collaborate with like-minded individuals in think tanks and working groups, allowing us to generate innovative ideas and promote transparency within the homeland defense and security [enterprise] and its partners. It is not uncommon for great ideas to be voiced but not reach executive leadership due to various obstacles. However, the program has empowered me to overcome these obstacles and ensure that management and decision-makers give my ideas the attention they deserve.” 

DC Metro PD Sgt. Antonio McKnight

McKnight added that Emergence advisor David O’Keeffe “emphasized the importance of effectively managing workload, so even with a heavy one he said he realized he “already possessed the necessary knowledge and interest in my chosen initiative. All I needed to do was organize my thoughts, streamline my initiative, and effectively communicate its value to stakeholders.” 

“This approach will aid my career development and contribute to a more effective and transparent process for planning and executing events. This is the beginning of our efforts to improve how we prepare, design, and execute events over the next few months.” 

Lopez, the DC Metro PD Manager of Internal Communications, said her Emergence change initiative—updating her department’s internal Intranet system—started with a request from her organization’s Chief of Staff for a blog that would give the DC Metro Police Chief of Police the ability to communicate directly with members of the organization about current events, law enforcement topics, the organization’s media platform, information from leadership, and member highlights. 

She said she quickly realized the organization didn’t have an updated Intranet system for internal communications that would encompass everything that was needed to engage members in a variety of ways. 

Lopez said she conducted investigations and research among various organizational units and colleagues to determine what was needed for a “complete overhaul” of the outdated Intranet system to “transform it into something more modern and engaging.”

The new DC Metro PD Intranet was launched on Wednesday, July 5, she said, calling it a “huge success” for the organization. 

“I am incredibly excited to witness the results of this collaboration and propel the agency into a new era of technological advancements.”

– DC Metro PD Sgt. Antonio McKnight

Ofcr. McKnight, whose CHDS Emergence change initiative is entitled “CDU Bulletin: Develop a HUB on the Intranet Homepage that Identifies all Things CDU-Related,” explained that his proposal relies on the DC Metro PD Intranet upgrade and he is working alongside Lopez and her change initiative. 

McKnight’s change initiative calls for implementing a QR Code that provides real-time information to first responders during planned special events such as First Amendment-protected demonstrations, parades, and other events.

He said his proposal “aims to facilitate the efficient transfer of intelligence, data, and knowledge to patrol officers” during planned public events via a QR Code that directs members to the DC Metro Intranet home page where they can access a “concise summary” of emerging trends, group biographical information, and Incident Action Plans, rather than searching through emails.

Lopez and McKnight at their Emergence graduation

McKnight said the QR Code will serve as a “readily accessible hyperlink for all patrol districts, enhancing preparedness and readiness for any planned event in the District of Columbia.”

In preparation, McKnight said he has conducted “extensive” research and engaged in dialogue with patrol officers and various Homeland Security Bureau divisions, held discussions with Special Events Planning and Logistics Lieutenant and officers, along with the Domestic Security Operations team which coordinates “peaceful and non-peaceful” First Amendment demonstrations. 

He said he has also connected with the DC Metro PD Intelligence Division, which “sifts through a vast amount of information that could potentially threaten the daily operations of our city and the safety of our citizens and visitors alike, thereby affecting [DC Metro PD’s] mission.”

“These ongoing conversations have been invaluable as we navigate the changing landscape of communication and technology within our agency,” McKnight said. “This step was necessary, as although the need was evident, it seemed as though the vision was waiting to be realized.” 

McKnight said the next step, now that the upgraded Intranet has been launched, is presenting his final proposal to the DC Metro PD’s Homeland Security Bureau Assistant Chief.

He noted that a key feature of the new approach is the inclusion of a dedicated Civil Disturbance Unit (CDU) Bulletin Tab on the DC Metro homepage, which will provide easy access to the agency’s Incident Action Plans (IAP), CDU’s Use of Force Policy, and any forms related to the Use of Force. 

“I am incredibly excited to witness the results of this collaboration and propel the agency into a new era of technological advancements.”

INQUIRIES: Heather Hollingsworth Issvoran, Communications and Recruitment |, 831-402-4672 (PST)

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