Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams called on the Governor and State Legislature to re-define public safety by using his new platform as a framework for envisioning and expanding non-police alternatives to ensuring safety. He first unveiled the platform for the city in mid-September, and sent a letter to state leaders urging them to pursue the measures after Governor Cuomo reiterated his call for city leadership to present a plan for better policing or lose state funding.
"Simple reforms or discussions around policing is not the answer...While policing has an important role and improving it is imperative, the prevention of violence for example - a primary focus - can only be done through an all-encompassing approach that prioritizes public health and social well-being as alternatives to policing," the Public Advocate says in the letter to Governor Cuomo, as well as Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie.
It would be a failure, he notes, to address policing in isolation rather than recognize the broader need to redefine public safety itself. He also acknowledges the Governor's recent policing reform workbook, saying he has presented his own platform "not as a response to those reforms, but as a blueprint for effectively effectively reimagining what creates public safety."
The Public Advocate's platform is part of a campaign that aims to highlight the intersection of public safety in other aspects of city life and governance, outlining a new framework and empowering with effective tools to be the change agents in defining public safety. It addresses ten key areas of gun violence, schools, housing and homelessness, mental health, transportation, technology, domestic violence, immigration, families, and public health. More information on each of these areas is available here.
The full letter to state leaders is below and can be downloaded here.
Dear Governor Cuomo, Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins, and Assembly Speaker Heastie:
I'm writing to share with you a recently assembled platform, curated by both experts and grassroots organizations, to redefine public safety. With this platform, my office seeks to help lead New York City into an era of enhanced safety and amplify the concerns New Yorkers flagged in Governor Cuomo's recent Police Reform Workbook.
I offer the attached platform not as a response to those reforms, but as a blueprint for effectively reimagining what creates Public Safety. That begins by acknowledging that Public Safety cannot be synonymous with law enforcement. Simple reforms or discussions around policing is not the answer.
While law enforcement has a part to play, for too long so many integral roles have not been sufficiently embraced. My platform addresses ten key areas where intersectional solutions can be discovered for inadequate services. While policing has an important role and improving it is imperative, the prevention of violence for example, a primary focus, can only be done through an all-encompassing approach that prioritizes public health and social well-being as alternatives to policing.
The attached platform is only the beginning of a conversation on how we can transform public safety in New York. Over the next view months our plan is to expound on each one of the 10 points and engage in robust community discussions. Your consideration and support of these policy proposals could be instrumental in bettering the lives of countless New Yorkers and inspiring similar transformations across the nation. I hope to engage in further collaboration with all of you on moving forward with these critical issues.
For further discussion, please contact First Deputy Public Advocate Nick E. Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org and Rama Issa-Ibrahim, Deputy Public Advocate for Justice, Health Equity & Safety at email@example.com
Thank you very much for your time and consideration.
Jumaane D. Williams
Public Advocate for the City of New York