PHILADELPHIA – Councilmember Jamie Gauthier (3rd District) has been chosen by the National League of Cities (NLC), the nation’s oldest and largest organization devoted to helping local leaders build better communities, to serve on its inaugural Reimagining Public Safety Task Force. As a member of the Task Force chaired by Mayors Ras Baraka of the City of Newark and David Holt of the City of Oklahoma City, Councilmember Gauthier will work with 22 other local leaders from across the country to help advance efforts to rethink and reconceptualize how best to achieve public safety in U.S. communities.
“Public safety is the most urgent and fundamental human need, and it’s the responsibility of government to work with communities in creating that sense of security,” said Councilmember Gauthier. “Feeling safe on your block is a human right—but between violence at the hands of police and a near-record homicide rate, unfortunately constituents of Philadelphia’s Black and brown neighborhoods are living in fear. We must address this head-on, and I am grateful to have the opportunity to do just that as part of the NLC’s Public Safety Task Force.”
Amid the multitude of challenges that cities, towns and villages faced in 2020 were calls to rethink and reenvision public safety in the wake of the murder of George Floyd at the hands of local law enforcement.
“Local leaders across the country have responded in various ways to calls to defund, reform and dismantle criminal justice systems while pursuing justice and equity for all their residents,” said NLC Executive Director and CEO Clarence E. Anthony. “The National League of Cities recognized the need to uplift promising municipal-level public safety policies and practices and act on the opportunity to spotlight local actions and innovations from local leaders such as Philadelphia’s Councilmember Jamie Gauthier, who is at the front lines of these issues.”
In 2020, her first year as an elected official, public safety quickly became a central concern for Councilmember Gauthier and her constituents. Between the killing of Walter Wallace Jr. and the indiscriminate release of tear gas in a residential Black neighborhood in her district during civil unrest – both at the hands of police – as well as a near-record number of homicides, which were concentrated in Philadelphia’s communities of color, she recognized that public safety is a racial justice issue.
This past September, Councilmember Gauthier introduced a resolution encouraging Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney to declare gun violence a citywide emergency in Philadelphia, and to take a number of steps to treat the crisis with the urgency it deserves. Just last week, Mayor Kenney announced his intention to fulfill the requests laid out in the resolution.
Members of NLC’s Reimagining Public Safety Task Force is made up of local leaders representing a diversity of city sizes who will convene virtually over the next several months. The Task Force will produce recommendations at the end of the group’s engagement to serve as a toolkit for municipal leaders and offer actionable steps on areas including: alternative and innovative response, violence prevention and reduction, jail use reduction, law enforcement reform, public safety budgets and most importantly, racial equity and community engagement.
The Task Force will work to:
· Set out a 21st century public safety agenda for America’s communities;
· Highlight promising public safety and justice reform practices in municipalities and identify key areas for improvement and opportunities to scale;
· Amplify the voices of local leaders in justice reform and public safety.
Effective movement toward equity in public safety will require the engagement of subject matter experts utilizing national data and research in addition those with on-the-ground experience. To this end, the Reimagining Public Safety Task Force will work with partners in both the non-profit and private sectors. Member leaders will learn from one another and national experts including the Vera Institute of Justice, Urban Institute, Cities United and John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
The work of the Public Safety Task Force is supported by the Safety and Justice Challenge of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.
· Mayor Ras Baraka, Newark, NJ
· Mayor David Holt, Oklahoma City, OK
· Councilmember Jay H. Banks, New Orleans, LA
· Deputy Mayor Keith Blocker, Tacoma, WA
· Mayor Sharon Weston Broome, Baton Rouge, LA
· Councilmember Joe Busciano, Los Angeles, CA
· Councilmember Phillipe Cunningham, Minneapolis, MN
· Cameron Diehl, state league director, Utah Leah of Cities and Towns
· Mayor John Engen, Missoula, MT
· Councilmember Nikki Fortunato-Bas, Oakland, CA
· Councilmember Jamie R. Gauthier, Philadelphia, PA
· Mayor Tim Keller, Albuquerque, NM
· Alderwoman Chantia Lewis, Milwaukee, WI
· Councilmember Janeese Lewis-George, Washington DC
· City Council Vice President, Willie Lightfoot, Rochester, NY
· Mayor D. Love, Centerville, MN
· Mayor Gene McGee, Ridgeland, MS
· City Council President Aidee Nieves, Bridgeport, CT
· Councilmember Emmanuel V. Remy, Columbus, OH
· Councilmember Monica Rodriguez, Los Angeles, CA
· Mayor Brandon M. Scott, Baltimore, MD
· Councilmember Linda Thompson, Spokane Valley, WA
· Mayor Vince Williams, Union City, GA
· Mayor Randall L. Woodfin, Birmingham, AL
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The National League of Cities (NLC) is the voice of America’s cities, towns and villages, representing more than 200 million people. NLC works to strengthen local leadership, influence federal policy and drive innovative solutions. Stay connected with NLC on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.