Special Session for Bloomberg Harvard Mayors: Leading Public Safety Reform in Cities

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View of New York City skyline

Mayors can play an important role in making their cities safer and more just. That work starts with asking the question: What do public safety and racial justice mean? What does a safe and just city look like? How do we define and measure it? These are difficult questions that cannot be answered by one city department alone, and not by city government alone. Public safety reform requires a holistic approach that cuts across functions like policing, public works, health, education, and other policy areas. It is also inherently collective work: the city needs to work with the community and other stakeholders and vice versa. Finally, in order to create a better future, a city needs to understand its past: the unique history of each community allows local leaders to tell a story of evolution from deep inequality to a safer and more just future. This session explored the leadership strategies that mayors can use to innovate and effectively drive change in their cities. The session featured three mayors who have worked with Professor Cornell William Brooks’ Trotter Collaborative on public safety reform over the past year.