Today, the Legal Defense Fund (LDF) released a Framework for Public Safety calling on federal, state, and local officials to act swiftly on interventions that will build safe and sustainable communities free from police violence. Year after year, police killings of Black people in America continue to occur with alarming frequency. The recent killings of Tyre Nichols and Keenan Anderson by law enforcement officers have reignited discussions about public safety alternatives that do not carry the threat of violence and discrimination.
As part of LDF’s Justice in Public Safety Project, LDF is introducing a framework to move from re-imagining to advancing public safety measures that provide alternatives to armed law enforcement as a means of creating safety. In addition, LDF is continuing to engage families and individuals impacted by police violence to inform our policy development and recommendations for public safety. Finally, LDF will issue a toolkit on unarmed responders and alternatives to police as a resource for advocates and activists to drive change and improve public safety at the state and local levels.
The framework centers on three critical interventions to make communities safer:
“The conversation about public safety must be elevated to action. The current system of law enforcement is not improving safety and has made some communities — disproportionately Black communities — more vulnerable. By creating a system of public safety that respects the dignity and humanity of all people, we can reduce violence and serve the interests of the public more effectively. This starts with making smart choices that invest in our communities to expand resources and economic security, reduce the scope of law enforcement engagement in Black communities, and promote alternative models of public safety that advance restorative justice and community-led interventions,” said President and Director-Counsel Janai Nelson. “Our nation is at a crossroads when it comes to public safety, and continuing down the path of disparate policing and increasingly militarized law enforcement will result in the loss of more Black lives. We urge officials and policymakers to prioritize these proposals that promote sustainable public safety and protect all communities.”
“We know that our current systems of public safety are not working and that we have to invest in new and innovative approaches to protect communities from harm. We must deploy interventions and strategies that address the root causes of violence and instability,” said Associate Director-Counsel Tona Boyd. “This framework and the forthcoming and complementary work of LDF and its partners offer the beginning of a path towards true, sustainable public safety without replicating the harms that unconstitutional and abusive policing has inflicted on too many Black communities. We are in a moment of crisis that demands immediate action. These proposals are a first step to realizing a humane, equitable, and effective public safety system that values and protects the lives of Black people in America.”
Founded in 1940, the Legal Defense Fund (LDF) is the nation’s first civil rights law organization. LDF’s Thurgood Marshall Institute is a multi-disciplinary and collaborative hub within LDF that launches targeted campaigns and undertakes innovative research to shape the civil rights narrative. In media attributions, please refer to us as the Legal Defense Fund or LDF. Please note that LDF has been completely separate from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1957—although LDF was originally founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights.