The case for integrated public safety

Tim Shriver

A holistic public safety approach: Integrated public safety

Dallas Police Chief Eddie Garcia often says, “police are the fever reducer — we treat symptoms, but we don’t cure the illness.”

Public safety has traditionally been thought of as the work of police, fire, and offices of emergency management (OEMs), each with a critical but siloed responsibility. But that’s changing. Like Chief Garcia, city leaders, law enforcement, and communities are all recognizing that the challenges facing cities — from homelessness to violent crime — require a holistic response. To deliver the best outcome for cities, traditional public safety agencies need to be able to effectively collaborate with an array of other departments including health and social services, code enforcement, public works, housing, and burgeoning civilian-led public safety departments.

Violent crime, for instance, must be addressed by police, but interrupting cycles of violence requires coordinated efforts across municipal agencies using strategies like place-based public safety. Code enforcement can identify and address environmental factors that enable and encourage crime. Community violence interrupters can intervene in conflict before it escalates. And social services can provide job assistance, addiction treatment, and other forms of support that address underlying causes of violent crime.

Homelessness and mental health crises are another example. For many police departments, one of the most common calls for service involve homeless individuals, topping more than 30% of call volume in some places. Chief James McElvain, retired police chief of Vancouver, WA, explains: “Homelessness isn’t necessarily a law enforcement problem, but we are the ones who get the calls, and we will respond because that’s our responsibility. But we don’t have the resources to provide more shelter space or services for mental health. We need others to come to the table.”

Homelessness outreach programs can often handle non-emergency calls, and social services can address underlying needs, such as addiction treatment and long-term mental health treatment, while housing departments can build and provide the necessary housing. Many police departments have built up expertise in responding to people in crisis, but a growing profession of mental health responders or co-responders can provide the best services and ensure that law enforcement officers are responding to the issues for which they are best equipped.

Unlocking true collaboration

It’s not enough for each of these different agencies to simply bring their expertise to solve their part of the problem. Right now, these departments are too often siloed, with their own ways of strategizing, executing, and measuring outcomes. For example, it's all too common for code enforcement to respond to complaints in the order they are received rather than strategically addressing the highest need areas. Meanwhile, police may address violent crime in one area due to spiking violence and social services may widely spread resources across a city or focus on another area based on a different set of metrics. The lack of coordination and collaboration hampers the ability of a city to holistically support neighborhoods experiencing repeated cycles of violent crime.

To effectively address issues like violent crime, cities must enable their departments to work together. Imagine if information from across city departments informed a holistic strategy where the city’s resources could have the most significant impact. Focusing on the highest need neighborhoods or blocks, police could investigate and deter crime while mental health responders manage calls for service they’re best equipped to handle. Public works fixes streets and lights in a neighborhood or on a block while code enforcement cleans up violations on nearby properties. By working together, slowly but surely, cities would address the root causes of violent crime and begin to interrupt the cycles of violence.  

This doesn’t need to be a hypothetical – it is achievable. To unlock transformative change and make cross-disciplinary strategies like the scenario above possible, city leaders need the ability to integrate information from a wide variety of data sources and enable collaboration across a wide variety of departments. All the while, they must build trust with their communities that sensitive and personal data will be protected and only accessible to the appropriate municipal personnel.

That’s where Peregrine comes in. Peregrine’s advanced data operations and analytics platform allows any data source to be integrated, creating one digital workspace where personnel from departments can collaborate seamlessly. And Peregrine enables department leaders to granularly control data access so only the right people have access to the right information at the right time.

With Peregrine, city leaders and front-line personnel can collaborate to develop and execute the best strategies to drive long-term solutions for their communities. They will know what works and why as well as what strategies aren’t working and need adjustment. 

Seemingly intractable challenges facing communities today can and must be solved. Peregrine gives city leaders the tools to address root causes and build thriving cities for all. Get in touch today.

About Tim Shriver

A former educator and non-profit executive, Tim Shriver became passionate about public safety innovation during law school where he studied under leading scholars of policing and privacy, worked in state and local government policy, and served in the Department of Justice. At Peregrine, Tim focuses on assuring our platform strengthens protection of privacy and civil liberties and advances public safety within and beyond policing.

Better, faster
in 90 days

Better, faster
in 90 days