Through a participatory action research (PAR) project, with support from the City of Austin's Equity Office, Texas Harm Reduction Alliance engaged directly impacted community members in data collection and analysis to identify alternatives to arrest, incarceration and confinement for unhoused people who use drugs. The research project was intended to inform local efforts to ReImagine Public Safety, focusing specifically on improving outcomes for community members most harmed by state violence and the war on drugs including Black people and people of color, people with mental health needs, and people who have overdosed.
PAR is a research tool for organizing that “values the significant knowledge people hold about their lives and experiences. PAR positions those most intimately impacted by research as leaders in shaping research questions, framing interpretations, and designing meaningful research products and actions” (Public Science Project).
A public health strategy that centers community safety and prevents law enforcement violence should favor community-built and community-based solutions. Using the PAR model, THRA staff were guided by an advisory team of 5 individuals. THRA compensated community members who participated and provided incentives to interviewees. The project collected qualitative data through 56 semi-structured interviews to answer the following questions:
What does public safety mean to you?
Do you feel safe where you are now?
What factors are contributing to you feeling safe?
What factors are contributing to you feeling unsafe?
What role does policing currently play in your life?
Does this role contribute to your safety? Why or why not?
If you could make changes to the role policing plays in your life, what would they be?
If the City of Austin invested money into public health alternatives to policing, what efforts would you want them to invest in?
our call to action
Call to action: Tell City Council to stop investing in police, and instead follow the Reimagine Public Safety Task Force recommendations. Invest in community, not cops!!
Contact your CM and come to City Hall on Thursday to speak to Council Members directly. Use the speaker sign-up form (Against Agenda Item 4) to register by 12pm Wednesday!! You can also contact your council members individually, using the info here.