Artists and Community Change
The PUBLIC SAFETY community development sector is comprised of individuals, organizations, and policymakers who are working to ensure the welfare and protection of the general public, allowing people and communities to feel free of threats to their persons and property. The achievement of public safety means more than the suppression of crime: it also includes prevention, intervention, and diversion strategies and programs; reentry support following justice system involvement; and the bolstering of “protective factors” like civic engagement, education, physical and mental health, and neighborhood livability. While public safety has often been cast as the sole responsibility of law enforcement and court systems, community members’ ability to self-establish informal social control also plays a major role in creating and sustaining it.
ALAMEDA COUNTY DEPUTY SHERIFFS’ ACTIVITIES LEAGUE
The Alameda County Sheriff’s Office (ACSO) in California is a state and national leader in progressive public safety. Using sports, arts, economic development, and recreation to build relationships between deputies and residents, the ACSO is helping to transform disinvested and disenfranchised neighborhoods in its jurisdiction into vibrant and safe communities. Alameda’s Deputy Sheriffs’ Activities League (DSAL) uses its nonprofit status and public programming skills to complement the ACSO’s community-oriented police work. The two collaborated with the local Chamber of Commerce, community groups, and local artists to present Eden Night Live: a seasonal pop-up festival that transforms a vacant lot on Mission Boulevard in unincorporated Cherryland into a safe place for creativity, community, and joy. In its first two years, Eden Night Live drew over 20,000 visitors and attracted 27 local vendors. DSAL is now implementing a community-driven process that will allow residents and the ACSO to transform an additional vacant lot along the East 14th Street-Mission Boulevard Corridor into another thriving cultural space. “I don’t know how many public agencies understand how much the arts can affect good outcomes,” says Alameda Deputy Charles Joe. “I haven’t seen anything else that’s been that connecting tissue.”