IS PUBLIC safety making

all of US safer?

Firsthand Framework for Policy Innovation 

Integrating community expertise into public safety reform

People who have direct experience with crime and violence

have unique insights into how to create meaningful reform.

But their voices are often absent from the places where policy decisions are made.

Building a system where everyone is heard requires finding new ways to listen.

Over the past two years, we’ve teamed up with community organizations and policymakers in the City of Oakland to ask: ​​

How can we shift focus from what is problematic to what is possible?

We talked to hundreds of residents and asked the question:

How do YOU know if your community is safe or unsafe?

The answers generated nearly 600 different “firsthand indicators” of safety,that reflect the expertise of residents who have historically been both overpoliced and underserved.

These indicators provide nuanced perspectives on public safety, that can help us find new roads to reform

And further into a wide range of categories.

Click to explore the categories

Some indicators show the presence of safety.

Some indicators show the absence of safety.

Across communities, indicators reveal meaningful differences in perspective:

Firsthand Framework Process

1
Collaborations

We partnered with six organizations to reach nine different communities of Oakland residents defined across, geography, identity, association, and shared experiences.

Our Partners: BOSS, CERI, CURYJ, MISSSEY,TRYBE, UNITY COUNCIL

2
Focus Groups

Alongside our partners, we conducted 24 focus groups with a total of 330 participants.

Each focus group invited residents to discuss the signs and signals that they are already using to assess both the presence and absence of public safety in their community.

3
Town Halls

Next, we convened larger town halls with each community, totaling about 550 participants. 

During town halls, we presented the full list of indicators and asked participants to vote for those that most closely reflected their own experiences of safety.

4
Coding and Analysis

The Firsthand Indicators we collected paint a vivid and multi-dimensional picture of community safety.







Collaborations

SOLUTIONS

Why should we use Firsthand Indicators to improve public safety?

 

If public safety is mostly measured by crime statistics, then public safety policies will mostly address crime. This results in more resources dedicated to punishment and fewer resources dedicated to creating the conditions that make crime less likely. In contrast, the Firsthand Framework for Policy Innovation suggests a broader array of solutions that focus on the health and well-being of residents, families, and communities.

How would public policy look different if safety was measured by the number of kids playing in the park,whether people share food with strangers or whether you hear birds in the neighborhood instead of helicopters?

Together, Firsthand Indicators can show negative cycles that reinforce conditions of crime and violence

Feedback Loop

Click the Indicator to get started

What's Next?

In the coming months, the Possibility Lab is partnering with the City of Oakland’s Department of Violence Prevention (“DVP”) to create, implement, and evaluate solutions based on the Firsthand Framework.

The Lab will work with DVP’s Community Engagement Teams–who have personal experience and social ties that enable them to be effective “violence interrupters”to develop actionable solutions sourced from members of their own communities; to design a proposal to the city for implementing high-priority solutions and to devise, initiate, and evaluate small-scale solutions using the specific firsthand indicators their interventions aim to address. Together, we are using the Firsthand Framework to illustrate how communities and government can work together, in meaningful and sustained partnership, to co-create real and lasting change.

EXPLORE THE DATA

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