What is Shared Safety?

Our nation has an opportunity to build consensus around the public safety solutions needed to achieve safety for all, moving from safety for some to safety for all.  Shared Safety envisions a world where everyone can attain safety and everyone takes responsibility for it.  

Shard Safety begins with joint responsibility – across different government entities and in partnerships with communities—for deepening our understanding of who is vulnerable, investing in effective prevention, health and recovery to break the cycle of harm. 

Shared Safety means looking beyond arrests and incarceration — and beyond the justice system — to cultivate safety at the family and neighborhood level. The more we can focus our metrics, investments, partnerships and attention on what works to improve safety and stop the cycle of crime, the better for our budgets, communities and families.  

The five principles that drive the Shared Safety approach are:

Public health:  Only responding to crime after the fact is akin to an emergency-room only response to illness. The public health field has much to teach about how to address epidemics: prevention, detection and treatment. Threats to personal and community safety worsen when knowable root causes are left unaddressed.

Well-being: The strongest communities are the safest communities. Well-being means community conditions promote mental and physical health and resilience. Measuring safety with crime data alone misses the opportunity to measure the most important safety metric: well-being. By defining, measuring and tracking well-being, we can invest in prevention scaled to community needs and foster safety. 

Survivors at the center: For too long, justice policy and investment decisions have not been informed by the experiences of most crime victims. Those that bear the disproportionate burden of harm need a voice. Placing survivors at the center means recognizing who victims are; amplifying investments in protection, trauma recovery and restorative justice; and partnering with survivors to stop the cycle of harm.

Breaking the cycle of harm: A growing number of experts agree: incarceration as a one-size-fits-all crime response is ineffective and unsafe. Breaking the cycle of harm requires a problem-solving approach. Alternatives and graduated responses can hold people accountable, address crime drivers to reduce recidivism, and prepare people for stable reentry.

Making the system work:  The historic over-reliance on criminal justice has grown a system that cannot solve most of the root causes of crime. Shared Safety relies on collaboration across health, safety and communities together. And, making the system work starts with trust. Communities that share a connection and mutual trust with local government have what it takes to attain safety for all.

Today, current public safety financial and policy priorities cannot achieve Shared Safety. It is possible to transform those priorities. We already know what works and how to get there — it’s about building consensus on the solutions and scaling them up to meet community need.