Following the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police, protesters across the nation and the globe have marched to end police brutality. For some this has meant reimagining policing, with an eye toward achieving racial equity in police treatment and in penal system outcomes. For others this has meant reimagining public safety, i.e., considering the various ways that society might achieve safe and secure neighborhoods with police as merely one of a number of institutions engaged in this broader project. For yet another group, community safety is the object of reimaginings. Here the effort is to center the needs and wants of residents of specific communities in efforts to reduce crime and the harms that come with it, to make wrongdoers accountable, and to bring about healing so that the community and its members can be made whole.
To varying degrees, each of these has captured the imagination of the broader public. It is unclear, however, how each set of reimaginings might be realized, especially in low-income communities of color where police and policing practices are arguably as much the source of deep and long standing harms as the source of protection and support.
To gain traction on this most urgent of issues, the Program in Criminal Justice organized a speaker series starting in the fall of 2020 on this theme. Reimagining Community Safety: A Program in Criminal Justice Speaker Series is an effort to better understand from the perspective of practitioners, policymakers, community leaders and activists, and academics 1) the long-standing nature and roots of this seemingly intractable problem, 2) why reforms have generally failed to achieve desired results, 3) what a different approach to community safety looks like, 4) what ongoing efforts in communities across the country hold promise for real and sustained change, and 5) what considerations should guide our evaluations of these efforts. Taken together, the speakers’ contributions represent a kind of narrative arc, ending primarily with community leaders and activists pointing the way to real and sustained change.
Sandra Susan Smith, Daniel & Florence Guggenheim Professor of Criminal Justice and Faculty Director of the Program in Criminal Justice Policy and Management at Harvard Kennedy School and Carol K. Pforzheimer Professor at the Radcliffe Institute.
Christopher Winship, Diker-Tishman Professor of Sociology, Harvard University and a member of the senior faculty at Harvard Kennedy School.
Below are the speakers from year one of Reimagining Community Safety: A Program in Criminal Justice Speaker Series. Please visit our YouTube channel for recordings of the seminars. The fall 2021 lineup can be found here.
Spring 2021 Speakers:
February 17 -- Chris Judd, Director of Roca, Springfield and Carl Miranda, Director of Roca, Boston. (Link to the Roca video)
March 10 -- Will Brownsberger, State Senator from the Second Suffolk and Middlesex District of Massachusetts. (Link to the Will Brownsberger video)
April 21 -- Panel on Public Defenders, including Anthony Benedetti, Porsha-Shaf’on Venable, Brendon Woods and Dehlia Umunna (Guest Moderator). (Link to Public Defenders video)
Fall 2020 Speakers:
September 23: Ronald Davis, Former Director of the USDOJ Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office); currently Partner of 21CP Solutions, an organization that seeks to empower communities across the country to develop and implement equitable and integrity-driven public safety grounded in trust and strong relationships. (Link to Ronald Davis recording)
October 7: Brian Corr, Former President of the National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement (NACOLE), Executive Secretary of the Police Review & Advisory Board for the City of Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Executive Director of the Cambridge’s Peace Commission. (Link to Brian Corr recording)
October 21: Barry Friedman, Jacob D. Fuchsberg Professor of Law and Affiliated Professor of Politics at New York University. Author of “Disaggregating the Police Function.” (Link to the Barry Friedman recording)
October 28: David Garland, Arthur T. Vanderbilt Professor of Law and Professor of Sociology at New York University. Author of American Punishment in Comparative Perspective, Crime Control and Criminal Justice, and The History and Sociology of Punishment, among other books. (Link to the David Garland recording)