Key Reforms Help End Police Violence

Local governments can reduce police violence and improve public safety overall by taking steps in four key areas, according to a comprehensive new report released today by People For the American Way at its Big Ideas Summit in Atlanta, Georgia. The report, All Safe: Transforming Public Safety, is a blueprint for communities to respond to the twin crises of police violence and communities’ growing concerns about rising crime. It features a range of options while also highlighting the Ithaca Public Safety Model as a goal.

All Safe recommends transformative change in these four areas:

• Restructuring public safety, by eliminating over-reliance on armed response to address a range of public safety issues
• Holding officers who engage in misconduct accountable, by ensuring that unfit officers can be identified and disciplined
• Removing officers who are found unfit for duty, by establishing reliable processes to permanently remove unfit officers
• Recruiting better and more fit officers, by changing recruitment material to focus on positive traits, and enhancing pre-employment screening
“We are very proud to unveil All Safe: Transforming Public Safety as a guide for local communities to take solutions to our public safety crisis into their own hands,” said Ben Jealous, president of People For the American Way. “Let’s face it: the federal government has failed to act on meaningful public safety legislation. Meanwhile Black and brown people are dying at the hands of police officers. This has to stop. We can seed true, nationwide change by putting the right tools into the hands of communities now and building on their success, to create an unstoppable movement for public safety transformation.”
“As the former mayor of Ithaca, New York, I know that small cities are truly laboratories of democracy in our country,” said Svante Myrick, People For the American Way executive director. “In Ithaca, we voted to replace our antique police force with a Department of Public Safety made up of both unarmed and armed responders. We believe wholeheartedly that this will make everyone safer, because so many 911 calls do not require an armed response. I’m very excited to work with other community leaders to show them how they can do the same, and I am honored that our model is featured in All Safe.”
“It’s time for a fresh approach to the delivery of public safety in this country, because the hard truth is that what we have been doing hasn’t worked,” said Dr. Niaz Kasravi, founder and director of the Avalan Institute and editor in chief of All Safe. “We have some of the most highly armed police forces and the greatest rates of incarceration in the world. If those strategies worked, we should be the safest nation in the world. But we all know that’s not the case. It’s time to transform our approach, and this report offers a range of options for communities to do that – and to improve and save lives, starting now.”
All Safe: Transforming Public Safety was timed for release at People For the American Way’s Big Ideas Summit in Atlanta this week. The event brings together elected officials, faith leaders, grassroots activists and civil rights leaders from across the country. Among them are mayors and other local officials who will be empowered to take the recommendations in All Safe back to their own communities for implementation. In Berkeley, California, Mayor Jesse Arreguín has announced that he will adopt the Ithaca Public Safety Model for his city.
Key Facts and Statistics from All Safe: Transforming Public Safety:
• Police violence disproportionately affects communities of color. In 2021, while Black people accounted for only 13 percent of the US population, 28 percent of people killed by the police were Black. Another 19 percent were Latinx.
• Of the estimated 240 million calls made to 911 each year, studies have found that 90 percent of calls involve situations that are nonviolent before police are called.
• Unions impose barriers to removing officers accused of misconduct. At the state level, unions have passed police officer “bills of rights,” which provide extensive protections for officers not afforded to other individuals in similar situations.
• Over policing is encouraged by the emphasis on meeting quotas in evaluating officer performance.

• Police recruitment strategies attract aggressive individuals. A comprehensive study analyzing the recruiting materials used by the 200 largest police departments in the United States found that: 42.7% contained some display of drawn firearms; 34% depicted military-style weapons; 32% depicted officers in tactical vests; 27.7% depicted paramilitary policing units.
About People For the American Way
People For the American Way is a progressive advocacy organization founded to fight right-wing extremism and build a democratic society that implements the ideals of freedom, equality, opportunity and justice for all. We encourage civic participation, defend fundamental rights, and fight to dismantle systemic barriers to equitable opportunity. Learn more: http://www.pfaw.org

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