Following high-profile incidents of police brutality across the United States, researchers, practitioners, and policymakers have called for a reimagining of public safety. In cities, such as Milwaukee (WI), Portland (OR), Los Angeles (CA), Minnesota (MN) and NY (NY), public safety reform has taken various forms, including the development of offices of violence prevention, grassroot-led efforts by community-based organizations, and the establishment of mobile crisis response teams. Importantly, however, these various public safety efforts differ in how much agency historically marginalized communities have over the decisions and the policies that impact their safety and quality of life. This is especially pertinent in partnerships between marginalized communities and the government, which have been historically rooted in distrust. To understand how to enhance community-centered public safety within marginalized communities in the present, it is imperative that scholars and policymakers examine the successes and limitations of past efforts.
Drawing on interviews, archival, ethnographic, and police administrative data collected over the course of 24 months, Jasmine Olivier explores how Boston public housing residents developed community-centered approaches to public safety from the late 1960s to the early 2000s in direct response to local government neglect and police violence. This sociological examination of community-centered public safety within Boston public housing centers on the case of the Bromley-Heath Tenant Management Corporation (TMC) (1971-2012), which controlled managerial functions and formed its own security patrol at Mildred C. Hailey apartments. The study of the Bromley-Heath TMC argues that while not a perfect solution to the public safety concerns, community controlled public safety has the potential to lead to significant improvements in neighborhood safety, community empowerment, and quality of life within marginalized communities.
Dr. Jasmine Nicole Olivier is a Researcher at Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago. Her research sits at the intersection of urban poverty and inequality, homelessness/housing instability, and criminal justice. Dr. Olivier conducts applied, community-facing research in partnership with city government stakeholders, community-based organizations, and youth with lived expertise in New York City and San Francisco. Current projects include formative and process evaluations of direct cash transfer programs aimed to reduce homelessness and housing insecurity among recently incarcerated persons and young adults in New York City and San Francisco. In addition, she provides technical assistance and research expertise to juvenile justice stakeholders in Cook County, Illinois to inform the ongoing transformation of supportive programming for juvenile justice youth.
Prior to joining Chapin Hall, Olivier was a doctoral student in the Department of Sociology at Harvard University where she conducted original, mixed-methods research on community-centered public safety, community control, and policing in Boston public housing. In this role, she conducted semi-structured interviews, ethnography, archival, and police administrative research with diverse public safety stakeholders, including police officers, social service providers, public housing staff and residents. In addition, she served as a Visiting Research Science Fellow at the Center for Policing Equity and serves as Senior Research Advisor to Campaign Zero, a nonprofit committed to ending police violence.
Olivier holds a PhD and a Master of Arts in Sociology from Harvard University, and a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and French from Vanderbilt University.
This event was moderated by Sandra Susan Smith, Daniel and Florence Guggenheim Professor of Criminal Justice and Faculty Director of the Program in Criminal Justice Policy and Management.
Links to resources mentioned during the event
Dr. Olivier's Boston Globe op-ed, "What legislators can learn from a Boston public housing development."
A component of Dr. Olivier's research for her dissertation is available online here: https://mellonurbanism.harvard.edu/reimagining-public-safety-policing-community-control-boston-public-housing-development
The 1992 HUD report, Evaluation of Resident Management in Public Housing:
You can learn about HEART in their recently published report: