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 3 -- Keyla Jackson and Isaac Yablo, Jamaica Plain Hub.(Link to JP Hub video)
February 10 -- Rahsaan Hall, Director of the Racial Justice Program for the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts. (Link to Rahsaan Hall video)
February 17 -- Chris Judd, Director of Roca, Springfield and Carl Miranda, Director of Roca, Boston. (Link to the Roca video)
February 24 -- Charlie Ransford, Director of Science and Policy, Cure Violence Global. (Link to the Charles Ransford video)
March 3 -- Cat Brooks, Co-founder of the Anti Police-Terror Project: . (Link to the Cat Brooks video)
March 10 -- Will Brownsberger, State Senator from the Second Suffolk and Middlesex District of Massachusetts. (Link to the Will Brownsberger video)
March 24 -- Wendy Still, Chief Probation Officer, Alameda County (CA) Probation Department. (Link to Wendy Still video)
March 31 -- Oluchi Omeoga, Kandace Montgomery, and Miski Noor, Founders of the Black Visions Collective. (Link to Black Visions Collective video)
April 7 -- Tim Black, Director of Consulting, White Bird Clinic and former Operation Coordinator of CAHOOTS. (Link to Tim Black video)
April 14 -- Carlos Garcia, Phoenix, AZ City Council Member and former Executive Director of Puente Human Rights Movement. (Link to Carlos Garcia 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)
April 28 -- Panel of Mayors, including Joseph Curtatone, Mayor of Somerville, MA, Kathy Sheehan, Mayor of Albany, NY, and Randall Woodfin, Mayor of Birmingham, AL. (Link to Mayors 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)
September 30: Lisa Holmes, Former Boston Police Superintendent and Head of the Boston Police Academy. (Link to Lisa Holmes 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 14: Rachael Rollins, District Attorney of Suffolk County (MA).
(Link to Rachael Rollins 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)
November 18: Alex Vitale, Professor of Sociology, Brooklyn College. Author of The End of Policing. (Link to the Alex Vitale recording)
December 2: Tracie Keesee, Senior Vice President of Justice Initiatives and Co-Founder of the Center For Policing Equity (CPE). (Link to the Tracie Keesee recording)