A New Look at Community Safety

Time to take a broad view of what community safety can look like.


Stop the enforcement of unjust laws:

Decriminalize all drugs, starting with marijuana. Adopt a harm reduction approach and treat it as a healthcare issue. Look at Sussmanto, the model of Portugal, where decriminalizing of drugs led to positive trends in such statistics as HIV infection, people seeking treatment, and teen drug abuse.  (Vastag 2009)

Decriminalize sex work, following the lead of organizations such as the Sex Worker Outreach  Project (https://swopusa.org/). Adopt policies that will actually ensure worker protections. (Sussman 2020)

Free everyone currently incarcerated on drug charges and sex work charges, as a first step towards closing prisons. End pre-trial detention.


Create safe Schools.


Reduce classroom size


Stop the use of carceral solutions such as suspensions and detention.


Reallocate excessive police funding to adequate school funding.


Invest in support staff and conflict mitigation strategies.


Create stable housing.


Implement housing first strategies.


As an interim measure demanded by the pandemic, fund rent and mortgages for those who were unable to pay to prevent a huge wave of evictions at the end of the state of emergency.

Redefine the Police role in mitigating social distress.

Allocate response and intervention for sexual assault and domestic violence to agencies trained and qualified to handle these volatile situations. There are several excellent organizations in the twin cities: the Domestic Abuse Project, Sexual Violence Center, Corner Stone, and Tubman Chrysalis Center.


Appropriately fund these organizations


It is significant to note that police themselves are involved in very high rates of domestic violence (Friedersdorf 2014)


Mental health services


Review options for expand mental health services and direct community engagement. (Hill 2029).  Consider the response capacity of a Emergency Medical Team.



In considering alternatives to excessive investments in policing, we should consider the reality of their effectiveness in actually preventing crimes that we might believe make them essential. I will note recovery of stolen property, as one example, is extremely limited. Generally, the police report functions as documentation to an insurance claim; something that perhaps could easily be handled by some other agency.


Due process that protects innocent citizens has disintegrated into a system of "justice" where the worst possible outcome has reached a level of social anxiety where we now fear the possibility of someone escaping "deserved" punishment. That put’s everyone at risk of false accusations and tattle tale enforcement which has no basis in fact. Consider the case of Amy Cooper in Central Park (Vera 2020). We need to rethink justice in terms of harm reduction and restoration offered by models of transformative justice.


Special thanks to Ruby Levine for her contribution to this outline: https://www.8toabolition.com/



Vera Amir, 2020 “White woman who called police on a black man bird-watching in Central Park has been fired”, May 26, 2020, Retrieved June 14, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/05/26/us/central-park-video-dog-video-african-american-trnd/index.html


Hill, Alexis, 2019, “Re-imagining Policing and Mental Health”, January 24, 2019, Retrieved June 14, 2020, https://www.policingproject.org/news-main/2019/1/24/reimagining-policing-and-mental-health-


Friedersdorf, Conor, 2014, “Research suggests that family violence is two to four times higher in the law-enforcement community than in the general population. So where's the public outrage?”,September 19, 2014, Retrieved June 14, 2020,https://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2014/09/police-officers-who-hit-their-wives-or-girlfriends/380329/


Sussman, Anna Louie, 2Sussman020, “Don't have to fight for pennies': New Zealand safety net helps sex workers in lockdown”, The Guardian, April 27, 2020, Retrieved June 14, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/apr/28/dont-have-to-fight-for-pennies-new-zealand-


Vastag , Brian. 2009 “5 Years After: Portugal's Drug Decriminalization Policy Shows Positive Results Street drug–related deaths from overdoses drop and the rate of HIV cases crashes” Scientific American, April 7, 2009, Retrieved June 14, 2020, https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/portugal-drug-decriminalization/