What we Do
Reimagining Community Safety
Our survey shows that Tucsonans want a new, holistic approach to safety.
Our survey shows Tucsonans want a new, holistic approach to safety
At JCA, we believe that local communities know best how to solve problems for themselves. But they are rarely given the chance to weigh in on decisions about “public safety.” For too long, the conversation has been narrowly focused on policing and incarceration. But safety is so much more than simply not having your car broken into. If you are facing eviction, are you safe? If your child is having a mental health crisis, is she safe?
The Reimagining Community Safety Survey asked Tucsonans about all the different things that contribute to the quality of life in their neighborhoods—housing, education, and jobs. Our researchers asked about their interactions with police and courts and how much trust they have in these institutions. And, most importantly, they asked Tucsonans for their ideas on how to address problems like racial disparities in the punishment system and what kinds of investments would make their neighborhoods safer.
Tucsonans do not see adding more police as a solution to their problems
Tucson residents recognize the importance of addressing people’s basic needs as part of a holistic approach to creating community safety. In their responses to our survey, they prioritized the issues that impact our community most acutely–housing and economic security, education, fairness, and equal opportunity for all. Only 4% stated that “more police” was a resource they wanted in their communities. Of the 46 individuals who said they want more police, 30 identified as White.
Many Tucsonans have had negative experiences with law enforcement or courts
Over one-third (37.5%) of respondents report that they and/or a family member has experienced incarceration (juvenile detention, jail, prison, or immigration detention).
Over a quarter–28%–of all survey respondents say they had been questioned, charged, or arrested by police when they had not committed a crime. This number is alarmingly high for Black Tucsonans and Native people.
Of those surveyed, 43% of Native American respondents reported having had interactions with police, a rate more than one and a half times greater than that of the general response. Black respondents reported an even higher rate, where 51% of those surveyed had been questioned at least once by police.
Tucsonans are most concerned about lack of affordable housing and homelessness
Across all demographic categories, Tucsonans are most concerned about the lack of affordable housing and homelessness. 63 percent of respondents said that over the last two years access to affordable housing has worsened in Tucson. And this issue was the number one concern expressed by respondents.
Tucsonans love their city. They largely feel that it is a good place to live, work, and retire. And they demonstrate that they care for one another and feel a sense of responsibility to tackle the challenges that disproportionately disadvantage some members of our community.
The results of the Reimagining Community Safety Survey clearly demonstrate that Tucson residents recognize the importance of addressing people’s basic needs as part of a holistic approach to creating community safety. They prioritized the issues that impact our community most acutely–housing and economic security, education, and fairness and equal opportunity for all.
Because the root of safety is relationship and connection to others.
When we get to know our neighbors, we are less likely to fear or suspect them. We watch out for each other’s kids, pitch in to help, and share the resources we have with those in need.
Imagine a safety budget truly focused on education, wellness initiatives, and infrastructure in Tucson’s under-resourced neighborhoods. What kind of futures could we create there? What new leaders could spring from those streets? We invite you to join us in discovering the answers together.