Making the System Work

Joint responsibility, collaborative solutions. Achieving community safety is not the responsibility of law enforcement alone. The historic over-reliance on criminal justice has burdened a system that cannot solve many of the root causes of crime. Shared Safety relies on cooperation, collaboration and innovation. Criminal justice, health, behavioral health, foster care, education, housing and social services systems must work together, across agencies and with communities, to leverage resources, evaluate outcomes, adapt and hold each other accountable. Making the system work starts with trust. Communities that share a connection and mutual trust with local government have what it takes to attain safety for all.

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1. safety

Build Community Trust & System Legitimacy

When a community views law enforcement, health providers and other public entities as legitimate, trustworthy and reliable, they are much more likely to seek help and help others.

Why do we need it?

If we fear that an institution will reject or mistreat us because of racial bias, prior justice involvement, immigration status or our child’s gang involvement, we are much less likely to reach out to the police officer in our neighborhood or see a doctor when we’re sick. Crime can spread unchecked, and illnesses go untreated.

How does it help?

In communities where every resident believes in the legitimacy of public institutions, people access the services they need without fear of retribution or discrimination. This has a multiplier effect: the safer and more publicly engaged our neighbors are, the more we are likely to be the same.

Questions To Ask

  • What is the trust level between the community and public entities?
  • How are law enforcement and other service institutions establishing and maintaining legitimacy among vulnerable communities?
  • Is staff trained in the impact of trauma and trauma-informed responses?
Nationally, only 41% of survivors report the crime to police, not including undocumented immigrants, who are least likely to report.

What does it take to implement?

  • Conduct an assessment of community perceptions about public agencies and design strategies to address concerns.
  • Develop culturally relevant and trauma-informed training for law enforcement and other public officials.
  • Ensure that immigration status, gender identity, race/ethnicity, age or disability is never an issue when reporting crime or seeking services. Raise awareness of this practice and make interpreters available.

Outcome Measures

  • Increased percentage of public employees and contract providers trained in trauma-informed responses.
  • Increased availability of interpreters and/or cultural experts.
  • Increased percentage of staff who live or have lived in the communities they serve.
  • Greater alignment between the demographic composition of service institutions and the communities they serve.
  • Increased percentage of reported crimes.
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2. safety

Establish Collaborative Partnerships

A Shared Safety approach works only if there is real collaboration among law enforcement, health leaders and the community, especially when tensions run high.

Why do we need it?

When decision-makers operate in silos and don’t have an ear to vital feedback from the community or their peers in other fields, they miss out on a wealth of insights, knowledge and ideas that could fuel innovation and fresh approaches to keeping people safe.

How does it help?

Collaboration is critical for vision-setting. Working together keeps the lines of communication open so problems are detected earlier and solutions are more comprehensive, minimizing duplication and unnecessary spending.

Questions To Ask

  • Who is currently at the table? Are our most vulnerable communities well represented? How do we get them here?
  • Have we designated a point person to convene this collaborative? Or can we incorporate this effort into an existing body?
San Francisco Probation Department, partnering with health and human services agencies, the Sheriff’s Department and community organizations, decreased revocations to state prison by 48% in two years.

What does it take to implement?

  • Designate an individual to convene a diverse and representative group of stakeholders to oversee your Shared Safety strategy.
  • Solicit input from communities most impacted by crime about who should represent them.
  • Make sure that information gathered from your partnership informs and guides your Shared Safety strategy.
  • Be honest about tensions and barriers that might strain this collaboration, and address them.
  • If it makes sense to integrate this work with a preexisting effort, do so. But make sure the right people are at the table.

Outcome Measures

Strong attendance and participation at partnership meetings by key stakeholders, including crime survivors and other community members.
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3. safety

Leverage Diverse Funding Streams

Shared Safety’s integrated approach potentially opens new funding streams – especially for protecting low-income and vulnerable populations.

Why do we need it?

Recognizing safety as a public health issue opens up new funding possibilities as well as new barriers. Traditional siloed funding streams won’t work for this integrated approach. Creative solutions that break the mold require creative funding strategies.

How does it help?

Leveraging state, federal and even private funding can help stretch precious local funds further, opening up new funding streams for health-related services and collaboration. For example, California’s Medi-Cal expansion and Medi-Cal 2020 can help expand behavioral healthcare and preventive care. For certain beneficiaries, the Affordable Care Act (ACA)'s Health Homes Program offers an additional Medi-Cal benefit for care management and care coordination services.

Questions To Ask

  • Who is responsible for seeking out new funding sources?
  • Have we dedicated a mix of resources to integrated approaches?
  • Have we identified and analyzed funds that serve “high utilizers”?
  • What are barriers to efficient use of funding? Have we requested waivers where appropriate?
  • Are we making cost-effective use of flexible funds?
Prior to the ACA, nearly one in four California adults had no health insurance. Uninsured people are more likely to forgo preventive care.

What does it take to implement?

  • Review and brainstorm funding possibilities beyond your go-to sources.
  • Analyze high utilizers to find cost-savings and more effective approaches.
  • Look for ways to “braid” funds to maximize multiple funding streams.
  • Survey all possible funding streams and review what colleagues in other jurisdictions have tried.

Outcome Measures

  • Exhaustive leveraging of state, federal and private funds for Shared Safety priorities.
  • Reduction in total cost for high utilizers and other individuals who cross multiple agencies.
Examples
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4. safety

Commit to Transparency & Continuous Improvement

A Shared Safety strategy that responds to community needs, stays on track and delivers results requires a commitment to ongoing improvement.

Why do we need it?

Systems that do not challenge themselves regularly or expose themselves to public review risk making wasteful expenditures and alienating the communities they were designed to serve.

How does it help?

Agencies and departments that engage employees and community stakeholders in ongoing reviews of their processes and programs can assess areas for efficiency, innovation and improvement and identify innovative ways to make communities safer.

Questions To Ask

  • Do we have a system-wide culture and infrastructure that supports transparency and continuous improvement?
  • Have we dedicated sufficient human and financial resources to evaluation and improvement?
  • Are we engaged in a network of communities trying similar efforts and learning from them?
  • Are we committed to continuing this effort even if we experience some failures along the way?
Putting individuals who are low-risk to reoffend into a criminal justice intervention can actually double their risk of committing another crime.

What does it take to implement?

  • Develop an interdepartmental system dedicated to transparent review and continuous improvement.
  • Carve out time for employees and stakeholders to work together on system improvement, e.g., “kaizen” events based on the Japanese business philosophy.
  • Dedicate sufficient IT, funding and related support to ensure that programs inside and outside of government are tracked.
  • Celebrate successes and be honest about your failures.
  • Share your learning and experience with others through media, trade publications or journals, and/or presenting at professional conferences.

Outcome Measures

  • An agreed-upon number of kaizen or similar evaluation events, which include “report-outs” at the end.
  • Documentation of successes and failures and sharing of experiences.
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5. safety

Support Community Organizing to Improve Accountability

To be held accountable to its Shared Safety commitment, government must embrace the community as a critical asset and important motivator for change.

Why do we need it?

Government efforts can be ineffective and sometimes even harmful when they are not aligned with the community. True system-level change can only occur if communities are engaged as partners and field experts.

How does it help?

Community organizations can play an important role in the system of checks and balances that ensure good governance. They know their communities best and almost always see the problems and potential solutions more clearly than outside agencies. And once you’ve earned their trust, they can be powerful allies in building that trust in the community.

Questions To Ask

  • Are we meaningfully involving community organizations as partners in our shared approach?
  • Have we provided them with the data and information they have requested?
  • Are we partnering with community organizations in planning, policy-making and implementation?
Upper-middle class youth show increasing involvement in family, school, church, and voluntary associations, while working class youth are increasingly disconnected.

What does it take to implement?

  • Seek out individuals and organizations trusted in the community to be field experts in your work.
  • Understand and respect diverse voices that represent the demographics of the community.
  • Problem-solve jointly by sharing data, integrating community suggestions and clarifying government constraints and limitations.
  • Follow through on commitments to earn the trust of communities historically let down by government agencies.

Outcome Measures

  • Increased engagement by community organizations.
  • Increase in resources dedicated to community organizations.
  • Decrease in Freedom of Information Act requests by community organizations (because the information is being provided to them as part of the partnership).
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Blueprint Overview