RE: Public Safety
One of the key components of a functional community is public safety. Inseparable from true public safety, though, is the responsibility of those charged with preserving our welfare to prioritize the building of strong, positive relationships with those within our communities. This requires the development of partnerships between law enforcement, community- based service providers, and the people of our City, a commitment to instilling confidence in our police department through unwavering transparency, integrity, and improved police culture, as well as addressing crime through community-building and a combination of prevention and enforcement.
Most crime is committed by people in crisis. Whether it’s food or housing insecurity, lack of opportunity or resources, poverty, or behavioral health issues, these drivers of crime should be resolved through intervention, diversion, and services -- not incarceration. Through effective use of mobile crisis intervention teams, proactive service outreach and connections, and diversion programs that center a recipient's humanity and engage communities in a positive way, we can begin to develop the partnerships that strike at the root causes of crime. Each level of these efforts should include a range of services, including; counseling, conflict resolution and mediation, substance abuse treatment and recovery programs, housing assistance, referral programs, and transportation to services. They should also be accessible through a variety of methods including online, by phone, through an app, or in-person. For those who do become involved in the criminal legal system, diversion at the level of pre-arrest and pretrial should be implemented to help people out of cycles of crime rather than prioritizing incarceration.
As we work together to develop a more equitable criminal legal system, it is important that we recognize the damage the history of violence and injustice targeting BIPOC communities has done to public confidence in law enforcement. Through consistent, accurate, and transparent data reporting, by addressing police misconduct, and enhancing police leadership and culture, centering and amplifying BIPOC voices in every approach, SPD can begin to demonstrate a commitment to repairing that confidence and trust. Data reporting not only supports investigation into department policy and practice, but encourages joint problem solving, innovation, enhanced understanding, and accountability. By committing to additional transparency through clarity in risk management policies and practices, by safeguarding a culture of accountability, and by properly classifying complaints, our City can identify and resolve areas of low performance, and sufficiently address misconduct. Instilling confidence and trust also, in relying on a shared understanding of the sources of distrust, also requires the enhancement of the leadership and culture of the police department. Bias-free police training, a commitment to procedural justice, and a review and improvement of recruitment, hiring, and promotion practices are all important steps to begin this process of reform.
Our answer to crime cannot be simply locking up those who commit crime and throwing away the key. This is an overly-simplistic reaction to an extremely complex problem. What we need, instead, is a comprehensive response that truly addresses crime. Addressing crime has to incorporate the building of close communities, the optimization of deterrence, situational crime prevention driven by community input, and strategic enforcement priorities. By leading with community, prioritizing both intervention and prevention through programs and dynamic outreach efforts, and dealing with sophisticated and street crime through a proactive, community-driven approach, rather than one based on complaint and response, we can promote a system of law enforcement that treats everyone with dignity and respect, where everyone is given a voice, where decision-makers are neutral and transparent, and the motives behind enforcement are grounded in a human response to people in crisis.