Government Accountability Project Asheville

The Asheville City Council meets this Tuesday 5/23/23 at 5 pm. You can attend the meeting on the 2nd Floor of City Hall, 70 Court Plaza in downtown Asheville. You can watch the meeting online at this link. The full agenda is here.


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Use our prepared email template to take action on this week’s item.



Things of concern, more information needed

Another Followup: Community Responder Pilot Program

We’ve been tracking this issue for several months now. In April, we raised questions about the Community Responder program, based on a presentation by Asheville Fire Department Assistant Chief Captain Patrick Crudup at an Environment and Public Safety meeting. The stated goal of the program is “to focus collective efforts to assist persons that are unsheltered and/or experiencing addiction or experiencing behavioral health issues.” We asked whether the folks being placed in these new positions were going to receive any racial equity training, and if so, how that training would be implemented.

Last week, we reported back to you that we’d received an email response from Public Records Officer Allison Byers. She sent us the results of a public records request from last summer, which included three racial equity training presentations developed by the City. (You can see these documents by clicking on the “documents” tab here.)

We had additional questions, which we directed to Ms. Byers, Equity and Inclusion Director Brenda Mills, and Assistant Chief Crudup. Some of those questions were about the nature of these trainings, which we understood were offered to all employees of the City of Asheville. We also wondered what additional training the Community Responders had received, since their work as first responders would seem to put them in very unique circumstances as they interface with community members of color who are navigating addiction and/or homelessness.

We’re able to report back today that we received another email from Ms. Byers, elaborating on the training process that all Asheville employees receive. You can read that email below. However, Ms. Byers had no information about more specific training or support that the Community Responders received, and neither Ms. Mills nor Assistant Chief Crudup responded to our emails. We are encouraging you to reach out to them this week, as it appears that they are more responsive to emails from community members than they are to our requests.

Things to do

We encourage you to reach out to Equity and Inclusion Director Brenda MIlls and Assistant Fire Chief Patrick Crudup to request more details on the training protocol for these Community Responders.

You can (a) use our Community Responder template link to open up an email you can adapt, (b) copy and paste the content below this chart into an email, or (c) write your own message to and


You can open this email in your own email program by clicking here. To proceed manually, you can copy and paste the text below into an email and then address it to the addresses listed.

Send to:,

Subject: Community Responder racial equity training

Dear Director Mills and Chief Crudup,

I appreciate the information shared by Public Records Officer Byers about the racial equity training that all City employees receive. I would like to know more about the specific training, access to health and wellness resources, and overall support the Community Responders have received or will receive. Their work as first responders would seem to put them in very unique circumstances as they interface with community members of color who are navigating addiction and/or homelessness. Did the Community Responders receive any racial equity related training beyond the training that all city employees received, and if so, what was the nature of that training? What happens if bias shows up in Community Responders as they engage people in community? What support is in place for them? How often do they get to check in with one another to grow a community of support?

Thanks for your leadership,


May 10th (GAP to Byers, Mills, and Crudup)

Thank you Ms. Byers. A few general follow up questions from our team:

  • since there were three documents, does that mean that there are three separate training sessions?
  • how long are these training sessions?
  • are the trainings just presentations, or are there discussions and breakout groups? (And if so, please describe.)
  • what kind of follow up is there for participants?

As you know, our request was specifically in relation to the Community Responder (CR) program. We would like to know:

  • is it correct to assume that the materials you shared are the sum of the racial equity training that the Community Responders received?
  • did all of the CR team members attend all of these trainings?
  • what follow-up was integrated into the process immediately after and is planned for the future?
  • what happens if bias shows up in CRs as they engage people in community or that shows up in those they serve?
  • What support/process is in place for them?
  • How often do they get to check-in with one another to grow a community of support?

Thanks again, and we look forward to hearing back from you.

The GAP Team


May 18th (Byers to GAP)

Good morning, GAP AVL,

Please see the response below from the City’s Equity & Inclusion Department:

“The Racial Equity Trainings provided for our AFD CR Team, are the foundational Equity Trainings offered for our COA Staff. The trainings are the foundation because they introduce the participants to key terms, concepts, practices and applications. In every sense of the word, they are and become the building blocks of understanding what Racial Equity is and is not. Those foundational courses are Advancing Racial Equity 101, Implicit Bias/MicroAgressions, and Advancing Racial Equity 201. The CR Team was provided training in these courses.

It is very important to highlight and understand how and when understanding, learning takes place. Students/participants in any learning or subject matter will experience learning in one of three primary ways: Some learn best visually, others learn better verbally, and then some students learn best by doing/practical application. There are students who even represent a combination of all 3 of the major learning styles. As the Equity and Inclusion Training Consultant, I offer learning across each of these primary learning styles in addition to ensure that learning happens for those participants who embody all three styles. Some of the most impactful learning however occurs outside the classroom, it happens in our interactions with others and through the practical application. This is true for all of us in whatever subject matter we participate in. This is also where the formal education is converted into Wisdom and being able to apply the learning; continuing to grow and develop. In our classes, the conversation and dialogue amongst the participants often offers the greatest in the moment learning.

The courses were hybrid. With full participation, engagement and active learning. These courses are (3) separate courses and the classes were (3) separate classes. The courses are 2 hours in length with built in exercises, check-ins, questions, and shared practical experiences which reinforce learning. One of the by products benefits of informed learning is Awareness; specifically, self-awareness. As with all learning whether formal or informal once we become aware, we can no longer not be aware of the subject matter. As is this case with Racial Equity Trainings. The continued learning, growth, development, and strengthening of any learning and skill sets happens outside the classroom and formal setting. Every human being is our Teacher and the World is our classroom.

These foundational courses of Advancing Racial Equity 101, Implicit Bias/Micro-Aggressions, and Advancing Racial Equity 201 become the catalyst for further conversation and Racial Equity Learning. Having attended the courses, participants often share this learning with their colleagues along with their insights, take away, and growth. In this way learning happens across vertically and horizontally.

It was a pleasure having the CR Team in class. They brought incredible insights, experiences, and perspectives into the classes that provided a rich learning experience for everyone.”


Allison Byers
Public Records Officer
City of Asheville


May 18th (GAP to Byers, Mills, and Crudup)

Dear Allison,

Thank you very much for this information. It’s very helpful and addresses many of our questions about the training that all City of Asheville employees receive.

We also asked a number of questions about additional training and/or support that the CR Team received or will receive. Are you following up on those questions as well, or do we need to seek that information elsewhere?

Thanks again,

The GAP Team


May 18th (Byers to GAP)

Good evening, GAP Team,

I think is best for your remaining questions to be answered by those directly involved in the trainings, as this is outside my scope as the City’s public records officer and has gone beyond a request for records. I will step aside and let the others on this thread follow up with you regarding any remaining questions. If your team would like to make any other requests for records in the future, please feel free to reach out to me.


Allison Byers
Public Records Officer
City of Asheville