Reimagine Public Safety Coalition
One-line solution summary:
To create a community-led approach to public safety through a public health lens by creating models of intervention and prevention.
What specific problem are you solving?
The national discussion surrounding policing and the intersection of disability, drug use/abuse, and mental health was prevalent last year. Allegheny County and the City of Pittsburgh declared racism a public health crisis.
It is crucial to define racism and its relationship to public safety and policing. Racism creates a hierarchy of certain kinds of bodies over others, allowing one group to carry out systematic discrimination through institutional practices and policies.
In Allegheny County the probation and incarceration rates for Black youth are higher than the national average. 75 percent of the people in our county jail suffer from mental illness and/or substance abuse. The criminalization of those experiencing mental health issues, homelessness, engaging in drug use, experiencing violence, and engaging in survival behaviors helps no one and exacerbates existing problems.
We need crisis response teams that consist of unarmed, trauma-informed responders trained in mental health, substance use, conflict resolution, de-escalation, and harm reduction. We must also address the needs of our communities before they reach the level of crises by establishing and supporting decentralized community care centers.
The long term impacts of collateral consequences, coupled with failed public policy has created an immediate need to reimagine public health and safety.
Pitch your solution.
We will implement a proven model already operating in several places such as Oregon, Seattle, Oakland, and New York. We have been and will continue to work closely with the stakeholders in those areas to assist in guiding our process. The process is led by the people most affected by these issues in consultation with relevant social services including mental health, drug use, and anti-violence/anti-poverty; mental health professionals, advocacy agencies; community organizers; legal experts; and research and data analysis professionals with not only the experience and understanding necessary to implement such structural change, but the experience of working with individuals and families on a daily basis devastatingly impacted by our current way of policing.
The project will result in changes to the way Allegheny county addresses public health crises, families will have the opportunity for more sustainability, and there will be a reduction in the number of people incarcerated.
Our solution's stage of development:Prototype: A venture or organization building and testing its product, service, or business model
Explain why you selected this stage of development for your solution.
We toggled between prototype and pilot, but landed on prototype because we are still creating the model to implement, based off of our local need. Eugene, Oregon has been utilizing such a model for over two decades. But they may have chosen different public health issues in the beginning according to what is more pervasive in their areas, their population, and the current structure of their government and first responder systems.
Therefore, will not use a cookie cutter approach when working with the stakeholders currently operating within a similar model and still need to build and test out our model as it will be tailored to our local area. Hence, it seemed the prototype stage of development was the most appropriate choice.
Where are you based?Pittsburgh, PA, USA