PFM’s Center for Justice and Safety Finance to Review Operations and Budget for Efficiencies as Part of the City’s Commitment to Social Justice and Equity
September 24, 2020
Providence, RI – Providence Mayor Jorge O. Elorza today announced an engagement with PFM’s Center for Justice and Safety Finance, which will be conducting an independent budget analysis and operations review of the City’s Public Safety Department. The goal of the review and analysis is to provide a breakdown of possible savings and efficiencies in public safety operations to increase capacity for prevention-first investments and approaches in sectors like housing, education, health care, mental health and social services, and workforce training, among others.
“We are living through a once-in-a-generation moment with the ability to influence transformative change in how we approach public safety in our city,” said Mayor Jorge O. Elorza. “We know that it is sometimes inefficient or ineffective to ask our public safety personnel to perform some of the functions we ask of them simply because they are the most available resource at the time. Rather than task them with these functions, we need to empower behavioral health and social service partners and agencies who are already engaged in this work to provide more positive outcomes for all our residents.”
As a part of the review and analysis and a piece of a larger commitment to social justice and equity by the City, the PFM team will leverage the ten-year budget projection model created in 2015/2016 to develop a budget forecasting tool for the Public Safety Department, which includes the Providence Police Department, Providence Fire Department, and EMS. The budget projection tool will help the project team evaluate options to enhance the City’s investment in prevention-first approaches to safety and justice.
The PFM team will be led by the Center’s deputy director, Seth Williams, who directed the National Resource Network’s development of the ten-year plan for the City of Providence. Upon the creation of the budget forecasting tool for the Public Safety Department, the PFM team will then develop a high-level cost impact or savings associated with each initiative to create a menu of approaches. This initiative-by-initiative breakdown will be included in the budget projection tool and will allow the City to assess the fiscal impact of the recommendations, in isolation or in tandem, for in-depth analysis.
“We are excited to again partner with Mayor Elorza and the City of Providence on this timely and important effort,” said David Eichenthal, executive director of PFM’s Center for Justice and Safety Finance. “As cities across the nation are rethinking the role of policing, Providence is leading the way in considering how best to invest in justice and safety.”
The City has also selected two local artist facilitators, Vatic Kuumba and Shey Rivera Ríos in partnership with Vanessa Flores-Maldonado, co-executive director of PrYSM, as part of the project team to design an art-based project that centers the priorities and needs identified by communities most harmed by systemically racist policing and the gaps in public safety. Over the past few months, Vatic Kuumba and Shey Rivera Ríos have facilitated, planned, and supported six community discussions about public safety and how it relates to the City budget. This process involved the creation of an open-source agenda for community forums, informed by data compiled by PrYSM, SISTA Fire, DARE, AMOR-RI, ARISE, Black and Pink, Youth-In-Action, and community partners over the years.
Designed by Vatic Kuumba and Shey Rivera Ríos, “The Moral Documents” or “Moral Docs”, A Providence Public Health and Safety Project is a web-based transmedia art project to reenvision public health and safety in the City of Providence. The project will identify current health needs and existing gaps in service, as well as make strategic recommendations about priority issues and opportunities. It accomplishes this by using film, animation, and design to uplift community stories that present historic and modern harms associated with the complications of public safety and behavioral health, and will present a vision for community-designed public safety strategies that can make a case for increasing investment into anti-racist institutions with meaningful community ownership.
Providence has already begun shifting public safety operations to prevention-first approaches through investments in the PVD Safe Stations program and Mobile Health Unit. The City has recently committed to leading a process of truth, reconciliation, and municipal reparations for Black, Indigenous (Indian) People, and People of Color in Providence and making immediate changes to the Police department by reviewing current policies.
About PFM’s Center for Justice and Safety Finance
In 2017, PFM created the Center for Justice & Safety Finance to support state and local governments in developing and implementing safety and justice policies that are effective and efficient in the advancement of both civil rights and civil order. The Center conducts comprehensive criminal justice systems and departmental reviews as well as supports local governments in outcomes-based budgeting and the development of multi-year financial plans, with a focus on the costs of law enforcement and opportunities for alternative investments. Learn more about the Center at cjsf.pfm.com.