Newark, NJ – March 25, 2021 — Mayor Ras J. Baraka joined Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and leading community safety experts on Thursday to announce the formation of a first-in-the-nation association of community-based public safety and violence prevention programs.
The Community Based Public Safety Association (CBPSA) will be comprised of key leaders and organizations representing major U.S. cities, connecting efforts from across the country to help advance pathways to safety that complement policing and reform the criminal justice system at a national scale. CBPSA will work to secure increased support to fund and build the capacity of public health-based violence prevention programs, which are essential to achieving and reimagining safety, especially in low-income communities and communities of color. As part of its efforts, CBPSA will educate policymakers, elected and appointed leaders, and the public about the critical role community-based public safety organizations in reducing violence, while working to professionalize the sector’s workforce through employment benefits and professional development.
“Newark has strategically invested in complimentary community-based public safety and public health responses to support police in reducing violence and crime, and our city is the safest it’s been in decades,” said Mayor Ras J. Baraka. “In June 2020, the City made an unprecedented decision to move five percent of the city’s public safety budget into a new Office of Violence Prevention and Trauma Recovery to provide additional support for community-based public safety solutions like the Newark Community Street Team, Newark Street Academy and the West Ward Victims Outreach Initiative that prevent and reduce violence by treating it as a public health issue.”
To ignite its efforts, CBPSA released a national study – Redefining Public Safety in America: A National Scan of Community-based Public Safety Initiatives – that details the various programs, how they work to reduce violence, and what is needed to bring them to scale. The timing of the report provides cities that are grappling with the increase of violence due to the economic instability of the pandemic with a roadmap for effective strategies to reduce violence and create healthy and safe communities at a fraction of the cost of traditional criminal justice and policing approaches.
“Most people think of police when they hear the words ‘public safety,’ however the public execution of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis Police has created an inflection point on safety in our country,” said Aqeela Sherrills, the Executive Director of the Community-based Public Safety Association, and a pioneer in the field. “If we understand violence as a public health issue, then we must equip those who are closest in proximity to the disease with the skills, tools and resources to prevent the spread and eradicate the root causes that lead to violence.”
The Community-based Public Safety Association launched with support from Mayor Baraka and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, whose administrations have invested important and significant seed funding in community-based public safety approaches in their respective cities. Together, the Mayors and coalition of organizations involved in CBPSA will call on City, State and Federal officials to dedicate resources, including newly received funding from the American Rescue Plan to invest in community-based public safety initiatives, like those outlined in the report. Examples include The Newark Community Street Team, CURE Violence, Advance Peace and The Urban Peace Institute, which have been demonstrated to increase public safety and reduce violence through a coordinated response with law enforcement.
“When we invest in community-based public safety strategies, our cities are safer, our neighborhoods are more secure, our families face less violence, and our workers find greater opportunity,” said Mayor Garcetti. “Los Angeles is proud to stand on the leading edge of evidence-based solutions, rooted in equity and justice, led by our groundbreaking Gang Reduction and Youth Development initiative – and we will keep investing in innovative programs in our city and advocating for smarter policies across our country, because we know the returns will be exponential and the result will be a stronger future for all Americans.”
In addition to the mayors, CBPSA was joined for the launch by report co-authors and leading community-based public safety practitioners, Dr. Gary Slutkin of CURE Violence Global (CVG), Melvyn Hayward of Chicago CRED, Dr. Aquil Basheer of Professional Community Intervention Training Institute (PCITI), Julius Thibodeaux of Advance Peace (AP), and Fernando Rejon of Urban Peace Institute (UPI). They lead organizations that support, train and advise community-based public safety initiatives in dozens of cities across the country.
Gary Slutkin, MD, Founder and CEO of Cure Violence Global, said: “Even in the face of some remarkable successes, public health approaches to community safety have been greatly underfunded by government and philanthropy. Even philanthropy, with rare but glowing exceptions, remains still almost solely focused on justice reform rather than the complementary public health and community alternatives. These successful alternatives save lives in our communities, and save money for our cities, states and all of us. We’re long overdue to turn this corner.”
Highlights of the report can be seen on this fact sheet.
The Community Based Public Safety Association (CBPSA) is a new umbrella organization for community-based public safety organizations. It aims to provide access to health insurance, life insurance and retirement benefits for Outreach Workers. The association will clearly define what goes into this work, professionalize the field and inform the public and policymakers about community-based public safety as key to violence prevention. CBPSA will support those in the field with fundraising and uniform data collection.
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