The Theme of Public Safety in State of the City Speeches Everywhere
State of the City speeches across the nation include an important theme: improving public safety.
Last week, President Trump delivered his first State of the Union address to Congress. Although the early part of the President's speech focused on the economy, public safety was emphasized throughout much of the remainder - a theme that was also present in many “State of the City” speeches around the country.
The President's address followed the typical structure of a “State of the City” speech. Its body started by highlighting the administration's “Record of Accomplishment” (notably the recent tax cuts), continued with the “Problems” faced by the administration (public safety and the threat from terrorism) and “Solutions” (merit-based immigration), and concluded with a “Call to Action” - a call for unity.
This structure is being mirrored around the country, particularly within the theme of public safety, in “State of the City” speeches everywhere. Indeed, in many jurisdictions, the topic of public safety could be included in the city's “Record of Accomplishment”. Recently released statistics show near-record lows for all measures of crime in the thirty largest American cities. However for many jurisdictions, near-record lows are not good enough, and they are striving to make their cities safer.
Public Safety in State of the City Speeches
Although the season for State of the City speeches has not yet concluded, there are many examples in which public safety has been a theme. In Boston (where the total number of reported crimes fell by 5% in 2017), New York City (where the crime rate is 28% below the national average), and San Diego (where the occurrence of violent crime is 15% lower than the average for California), city leaders were keen to note their public safety achievements and ongoing initiatives.
In Boston, Mayor Marty Walsh had plenty to say about public safety. Looking back over the city's achievements since he took office in 2014, Mayor Walsh noted that violent crime had fallen by 9%, property crime was down by 16% and arrests had decreased by 25%. He attributed some of the decline in crime rates to the city's new public safety strategy and police cadet programs, but also commented on how certain initiatives had contributed to an increase in public safety. These included:
- Boston's Way Home - an initiative to end chronic veteran's homelessness that is being extended in 2018 to end all chronic homelessness.
- The replacement of half of the Boston Fire Department fleet and the construction of Boston's first new fire stations in thirty years.
- The extension of the 311 service for reporting non-emergency issues to include a drugs and alcohol recovery hotline.
- The Vision Zero safety plan that has reduced the speed limit in the city of Boston to 25 miles per hour and installed protected bike lanes.
- The Operation Exit and Professional Pathways apprenticeship schemes, designed to take young people off the streets and place them in jobs.
- New Neighborhood Trauma Teams to improve access to services for victims of violence to decrease the potential for further violence against individuals, families and communities.
New York City
In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio addressed the city's leaders from the stage of the Apollo Theater in Harlem. His speech followed the pattern of his counterpart in Boston - discussing initiatives to tackle homelessness and mental health in order to make the streets safer. He commented the city is safer than it has ever been and heralded a new era of neighborhood policing - adding that, by the end of 2019, every patrol officer in New York City will be wearing a body camera.
In the most recent of the State of the City speeches, Mayor Kevin Faulkner told dignitaries in San Diego how investments in public safety were paying dividends. The city's Housing our Heroes and HousingSD initiatives have been effective at reducing homelessness, while investment in new fire stations and the largest recruitment drive in San Diego police history have resulted in San Diego being one of the safest big cities in the country, with overall crime at its lowest level in half a century.
Public Safety Improvements Cities Should Carry Over into 2018
In each of the State of the City addresses - and particularly in the speech given by Mayor Marty Walsh in Boston - three public safety goals were evident. The goal to effectively support and manage vulnerable populations, the goal to improve communications between city departments and citizens, and the goal to enhance communications during and after critical events.
Critical communication tools such as Smart911 safety profiles can make each of these goals achievable. For example, Smart911 safety profiles can provide 911 dispatchers and first responders with the information they need to identify vulnerable members of the community during an emergency. Emergency communication system technology can be used to warn citizens of the risk of danger. Developing and maintaining a digital emergency preparedness registry can help emergency managers understand individual needs in their community and enable faster communication during a crisis.
A full suite of critical communication solutions is available for communities to leverage in bringing public safety goals into fruition.
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