Cops and Doctors: Bridging Public Safety and Public Health

A Pediatrician and a Police Chief Walk Into a Neighborhood…

youth_meeting.jpgIn the spring of 2011, Dr. Robert Ross and then US Department of Justice COPS Officer Director Bernard Melekian recognized that their professions sorely needed each other. Each was tackling issues of safety and health and not making it as far as they or their communities would like.

So they decided to do something about it. They brought together a set of public health and public safety leaders to talk about sharing tools: taking a public health approach to creating safe neighborhoods. That first conversation sparked a set of exciting innovations in policing.

*  The East Palo Alto Police Department used data from Shot Spotter sensors to create maps showing the city’s most active gunshot “hot spots.”  The department then reduced crime in these areas by helping residents reclaim parks and nearby public spaces for sports and other physical activities.

*  The Milwaukee Homicide Review Commission brings together a wide range of partners – law enforcement, nonprofit organizations, health agencies and faith-based organizations – to review homicide cases and brainstorm strategies for preventing them. The commission noticed that a large number of guns purchased by African American women were being used in violent crimes. In response, the health department designed a public education campaign to reach women at popular beauty parlors with the message “Don’t buy for your guy.”

*  As part of the Community Safety Partnership, The Advancement Project worked with the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Police Department to improve safety at four housing developments. The Partnership successfully uses data for hot spot mapping, while at the same time encourages police officers to build class-of-2012_400x300.jpglong-term relationships with local residents. As a result, violent crime dropped by more than 50% in three Watts housing developments.

*  The Long Beach Police Department has created a leadership academy to help at-risk youth improve their social emotional health and develop skills that will help keep them out of the justice system. The curriculum includes effective communications, conflict resolution, physical fitness and nutrition. A slideshow from the 2012 academy is available here.

The partnership between the Endowment and the COPS office is an ongoing project, and we’re continuing to learn and develop new ideas, so stay tuned for more updates.

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