Vera Institute of Justice Report on Coordinating Public Safety

Building centralized local offices of violence prevention or neighborhood safety (OVP/ONS) to oversee community-specific approaches to violence and unmet safety needs is a promising approach to redefining public safety.

November 20th, 2023
Contact: Nico MacDonald

New York City, NY — For decades, communities across the country have experienced

persistently high levels of violence and other threats to their safety. The standard response—more policing, more jails, and longer sentences—has not meaningfully helped. According to Coordinating Safety: Building and Sustaining Offices of Violence Prevention and Neighborhood Safety, a new report released today by the Vera Institute of Justice (Vera), there are now 48 city- or county-level offices of violence prevention or neighborhood safety (OVP/ONS) operating across the country, and at least 10 more in development. These offices champion and support community violence intervention and other evidence-based solutions, delivering safety without the social costs that can come with an overreliance on policing. The recent growth of these offices allowed Vera to learn more about them: what works well, the challenges they face, and how they can meet their communities’ needs.

For example, Richmond, CA, has made a sustained investment in its Office of Neighborhood Safety and seen a 62 percent decline in homicides and 79 percent decrease in firearm assaults over the last 15 years. And after just two years of service, Albuquerque Community Safety has dispatched trained professionals with backgrounds in mental health and social services to more than 45,000 911 and 311 calls for service—60 percent of those having been diverted from police.

“Prioritizing health and healing—rather than punishment—moves us closer to the justice and safety communities need and deserve,” said Daniela Gilbert, director of Redefining Public Safety at Vera. “Offices have the potential to establish a radically new model for governments seeking to build safer, healthier communities and fundamentally redefine public safety.”

As the number of OVP/ONS continues to grow, this is a critical time to examine what’s working well, what challenges exist, and how these offices can take on a leadership role in a jurisdiction’s public safety strategy. To meet this need, Vera, in partnership with the National Offices of Violence Prevention Network and the National Institute for Criminal Justice Reform, examined how these offices can meet the promise of their vision and grapple with the resource and political challenges that threaten their efficacy and sustainability.

Vera’s new report summarizes the current state of OVP/ONS nationally and identifies promising practices and recommendations to create and support these offices. The report aims to inform local government leaders seeking to establish or support an office, to equip advocates with information about what works, and to inform OVP/ONS leaders and staff as they advocate for the resources they need to deliver true public safety for all.


About the Vera Institute of Justice

The Vera Institute of Justice is powered by hundreds of advocates, researchers, and policy experts working to transform the criminal legal and immigration systems until they’re fair for all. Founded in 1961 to advocate for alternatives to money bail in New York City, Vera is now a national organization that partners with impacted communities and government leaders for change. We develop just, antiracist solutions so that money doesn’t determine freedom; fewer people are in jails, prisons, and immigration detention; and everyone is treated with dignity. Vera’s headquarters is in Brooklyn, New York, with offices in Washington, DC, New Orleans, and Los Angeles. For more information, visit