Adopt safety as a public health issue
Applying a public health approach means addressing the what, when, where and how that causes a lack of safety so that we can tackle the real underlying problems, not the symptoms.
Why do we need it?Unaddressed exposure to community violence causes short- and long-term physical and behavioral health consequences and yet we continue to treat public safety as a criminal justice issue–not a public health problem.
How does it help?Instead of waiting until after crime occurs, a public health approach offers the tools essential to detect, prevent and treat unsafe conditions while building community strength and resiliency.
Questions To Ask
- How is our leadership committed to building safety through investments in community well-being and prevention?
- How does our Shared Safety approach prioritize crime prevention? How much focus is on triaging only after harm has happened?
- Do our strategies effectively protect those who are most at risk of harm?
What does it take to implement?
- Engage public health, social services and a cross-section of the community in public safety policy-making.
- Conduct a culturally relevant, community-wide risk assessment – just as you would for any disease.
- Identify the most salient risk factors of the communities most harmed.
- Develop a triage and long-term plan to reduce those risk factors.
- Increased ability to measure risk of harm by race/ethnicity, gender/sexual identity, disability, age, legal status and geography (e.g., zip code).
- Increased use of short- and long-term cost analyses of safety strategies.