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Reimagining Community Safety:  The Promise of Transformation and the Challenges to Overcome has ended for the fall semester. Please join our mailing list to be notified of future events in that series.


Deborah RamirezOctober 20 -- Deborah RamirezOne of the central concerns about how to produce more equitable and just outcomes has been how to make the police accountable for their misconduct. Deborah Ramirez, professor for criminal justice at Northeastern University School of Law joined us to discuss her four-part solution, which includes restricting police union’s collective bargaining and narrowing qualified immunity by using professional liability insurance, efforts that should save lives by detecting, preventing, and deterring police misconduct. 

Nikuyah WalkerRaShall BrackneyNovember 3—Nikuyah Walker and RaShall Brackney on the Challenges of Reform: Charlottesville, Virginia reckoned with its own history of systemic racism by electing Nikuyah Walker as its mayor and appointing Dr. Rashall Brackney as its Chief of Police, both Black women committed to transformative change that might lead to racial equity. For her efforts, Chief Brackney has been dismissed. Frustrated by efforts to block her initiatives, Mayor Walker has decided against running for reelection. Both women joined us to discuss the promise of transformation and the challenges faced by those promoting policy changes that have the potential to bring about safe, just, and healing communities for all.  

Sarah SeoNovember 17—Sarah Seo on Reducing Racial Disparities by Removing Police from Traffic Enforcement: Last month, citing strong racial disparities in traffic stops and arrests, Philadelphia’s city council voted to bar police officers from conducting pretextual stops and searches for low-level motor vehicle infractions. It is the first city in the nation to do so, but Philadelphia is hardly alone. Measures to decriminalize driving-while-Black are spreading, slowly but surely, and have major implications not only for racial disparities in traffic stops, but also for disparities in police use of force. To better understand this complex issue and its rich history, we welcomed Sarah Seo, Professor of Law at Columbia University, author of Policing the Open Road: How Cars Transformed American Freedom.

Michelle PhelpsDecember 1—Michelle Phelps on Why did voters reject plans to replace the Minneapolis Police Department? 

Across the country, grassroots efforts are underway to try to replace police departments with departments of public safety. Although the changes being considered differ across contexts, they have in common an interest in moving away from armed officers who focus on crime to civilian forces that take a holistic approach by focusing on the root causes that bring about concerning and harmful behaviors. In Minneapolis, considerable support seemed to exist for such a change, but a recent ballot initiative fell short of achieving this goal. Why did Minneapolis voters decide against replacing their police department with a new Department of Public Safety? And what does this defeat tell us about the hurdles that exist not only to potentially transformative police reform, but also to our understanding of what public safety is and how best it is achieved?  Michelle Phelps, Professor of Sociology at the University of Minnesota, joined us to share her unique insights about how dynamics rooted in race, class, and space converged to produce unexpected patterns of voting on this important and potentially game-changing issue.