San Francisco, CA — Mayor Breed today announced the City’s partnership with the Policing Project at New York University School of Law as part of a nationwide research project and initiative, Reimagining Public Safety (RPS), which aims to end the overuse of police as the one-size-fits-all response to community needs.
RPS is working in San Francisco, Denver, Chicago, Tucson, and Minneapolis to conduct in-depth research about community safety concerns and produce a framework for transforming first response that better addresses the reasons community members call 911.
"For decades, our country has ignored systemic issues rooted in our criminal justice system, slowing any progress towards policing reform needed in response to community needs. We cannot improve public safety for all of us by asking police officers to be the singular solution to all of society's problems," said Mayor London Breed. "In San Francisco, our innovative alternatives to a police response, such as our Street Crisis Response Team which provides a medical and unarmed response to behavioral health crises instead of a police response, shows what can be accomplished when we work in collaboration across disciplines, including the police. Working with the NYU Policing Project we can take our work, build on it to continue to improve, and set a new standard for the rest of the nation to follow."
RPS seeks to realign public safety services to address underlying community needs and reduce reliance on police for a range of issues that do not require a law enforcement response. The goal of RPS is to generate much-needed guidance for communities large and small that are looking to redesign their public safety systems.
By partnering with community leaders, advocates, lawmakers, researchers, 911 dispatchers, social service professionals, and police across the country, RPS is creating a blueprint for how governments and communities can collaboratively support strong, safe, healthy, and thriving communities.
“Communities have a wide range of needs that they call 911 for simply because there is no one else to call, and police are too often a catch-all response,” said Barry Friedman, co-founder of the Policing Project. “From helping a loved one in crisis to dealing with excessive noise, when people need urgent help, they feel no choice but to call 911 and we send the police—because that’s who is available. This not only squanders limited law enforcement time and resources, but we’ve seen too often that bringing police into a situation has the potential to escalate matters and turn violent or even deadly—especially in Black communities and other communities of color. We need to pivot away from just controlling a situation and instead embrace real, long-term community-driven solutions that address the roots of these problems.”
To support these efforts, the Policing Project will be sharing lessons learned on a rolling basis at www.safetyreimagined.org.