On Saturday, October 12, the South L.A. community came out to celebrate Safe Passages and Healing Circles participants for demonstrating the power of community based public safety solutions and the importance of mental health in the Black community.
Los Angeles City Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson and Community Intervention Workers used a series of community-based de-escalation tactics during the summer of 2019 to reduce violent crime and respond to the trauma of violence in South L.A. The Community Safety Initiative successfully stopped a spike in crime during the spring of 2019 and reduced violent crime by eight percent when comparing crime data between the summers of 2018 to 2019 according to LAPD data.
The Community Safety Initiative was created to expand on proven crime and violence prevention strategies. Safe Passages interventionist were celebrated on Saturday for their work to prevent gun violence. These community intervention workers live in South L.A. and patrol the community to de-escalate violence. Safe Passages relies on the power of relationships and community organizations to provide safe passage to and from schools, parks and public spaces. Over 1,000 hours of patrols were conducted over an eight week period and community intervention workers successfully intervened in 35 incidents to immediately de-escalate potentially violent conflict.
The celebration on Saturday also recognized the traumatic effects violence has on South L.A. residents and the importance of having honest conversations about mental health in the Black community. Healing Circles give people a safe space to express the effects of trauma and bond over shared experiences. The circles also give residents the tools to deal with the trauma of violence as well as everyday stress. These healing circles served 1,355 South L.A. youth and adults during the summer of 2019. Participants experienced a reduction in stress levels due to their participation and use of the tools learned during the Circles according to pre and post survey results.
“We can lead the way on innovative approaches to addressing the causes and effects of crime in our communities,” said Harris-Dawson. “The success of the Community Safety Initiative demonstrates the effectiveness of community-based public safety solutions. Healing Circles will be a model that is adopted citywide and I’m sure cities across the country will follow. The funders invested in the Initiative because they believe in community based solutions and the organizations carrying out this work.”
Keeping South Los Angeles Safe has been a priority for Councilmember Harris-Dawson since taking office in 2015. Rather than rely on traditional techniques, the councilmember decided to invest in community-based solutions. The South L.A. Community Safety Initiative leveraged funding from the Ballmer Foundation the Weingart Foundation and the California Wellness Foundation who believe in holistic strategies to public safety. Their support provided over 830 hours of community violence intervention and 115 community healing circles.
Saturday’s event celebrates the residents of South L.A. that made this program as successful model for community-based public safety solutions. The Community Safety Initiative gives community-based organizations like Community Coalition, Brotherhood Crusade, and the Healing Circle L.A. the resources necessary to scale their work across south L.A. These organizations came out on Saturday along with representatives from Loyola Marymount to celebrate the success and recognize the South L.A. community.