Center for American Progress

RELEASE: The Center for American Progress and Mayors From 10 Cities Launch New “Mayors for Smart on Crime” Initiative as Movement Against Outdated Public Safety Approaches Grows
Press Release

RELEASE: The Center for American Progress and Mayors From 10 Cities Launch New “Mayors for Smart on Crime” Initiative as Movement Against Outdated Public Safety Approaches Grows

Washington, D.C. — National crime statistics have been trending downward since 1991, due in large part to the efforts of mayors and city leaders working with their police chiefs and communities to implement strategies that work. Today, mayors from 10 cities have joined with the Center for American Progress to launch a new national initiative of city leaders committed to pursuing a fair, equitable, and comprehensive approach to public safety and criminal justice reform.

Mayors for Smart on Crime brings together mayors from cities of varying sizes and from different regions of the country to present a unified voice for Smart on Crime principles, and at the same time reject outdated “tough on crime” approaches that have been shown to be short-sighted, ineffective, and disproportionate in their effect on black and Latino communities.

The mayors who are part of the new initiative are:

Mayor Bill de Blasio, New York City, New York

Mayor Jenny Durkan, Seattle, Washington

Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson, Gary, Indiana

Mayor Michael Hancock, Denver, Colorado

Mayor Jim Kenney, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Mayor Michael Tubbs, Stockton, California

Mayor Marty Walsh, Boston, Massachusetts

Mayor Sharon Weston Broome, Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Mayor Nan Whaley, Dayton, Ohio

Mayor Randall Woodfin, Birmingham, Alabama

Additional mayors are expected to join. In a time of change and vulnerability, the network will serve as a platform to highlight cities’ smart approaches to building stronger, safer communities. Mayors will have opportunities to share ideas and learn from the collective experiences of the network.

“As a former attorney general, judge, and deputy prosecutor, I have seen the criminal justice problem from every angle,” said Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson, of Gary, Indiana.  “If we continue to use law enforcement centered solutions, we will get the same mixed results and we will continue to lose valuable human potential.”

“I’m proud to join the Center for American Progress’ ‘Mayors for Smart on Crime’ in representing cities and mayors across America in standing up against the divisive Trump administration policies that threaten all the great progress we’ve made as cities and as a country,” said Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney. “In Philadelphia, crime is at a 40-year low thanks to efforts to decriminalize minor offenses, increase diversion and reentry programs, strengthen police-community relations, and proactively engage at-risk communities who are not already engaged by the city. Philadelphia can’t go backward.”

“Research over the past two decades has shown that Smart on Crime strategies increase public safety for everybody and they build trust in the community,” said Ed Chung, vice president of Criminal Justice at the Center for American Progress. “We want to work with mayors to uplift the smart strategies they’re already implementing. Tactics like increasing incarceration rates and sentences have a minimal long-term impact on crime, but they have life-long effects on predominantly African American and Latino communities.”

Though approaches vary, Smart on Crime strategies are rooted in four principles:

  • Fair laws and the fair enforcement of the law
  • Just and proportional responses to crime
  • Comprehensive investments, including prevention and reentry
  • Strategies driven by evidence and data

Each quarter, mayors will focus on one of the networks’ five core issue areas: violence reduction and prevention, pre-trial and bail reform, accountable community policing, opportunities for the formerly incarcerated or those involved with the justice system, and public health solutions and investments.

In Denver, for example, under Mayor Michael Hancock’s leadership, the Denver Police Department established a co-responder model, in which police and behavioral health professionals jointly respond to calls for service. The model has successfully prioritized diverting people in distress away from the criminal justice system and into treatment and other supportive services. And in Boston, Mayor Marty Walsh has forged partnerships with private sector employers to support the Mayor’s Summer Jobs Program, an initiative that connects local young people with meaningful work experiences. The program has shown significant and enduring reductions in criminal involvement among participants, as well as improvements in job-readiness and social skills.

Cities nationwide are already committed to fair, equitable, and comprehensive approaches to public safety and criminal justice reform. Through Mayors for Smart on Crime, the Center for American Progress will continue to support and empower city leaders in these efforts. To read more about the network and what different cities are doing, visit Also, read  Resisting “Tough on Crime”: Smarter Ways to Keep American Cities Safe by Betsy Pearl and Ed Chung.

This project was created with support from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation as part of the Safety and Justice Challenge, which seeks to reduce over-incarceration by changing the way America thinks about and uses jails.


For more information or to speak to an expert, please contact Elena Gaona at 202-478-6322 or [email protected]