Is There a Role for Police in Public Health and Harm Reduction?

Event Date: 
Friday, September 9, 2022 - 12:00pm to 3:30pm
Event Location: 
ASU California Center
Presented by: 
School of Criminology and Criminal Justice

Police in the United States are under tremendous scrutiny. Police killings of citizens have led to public protests, riots, demands for reform and calls to “defund the police.” Most defund advocates are pushing to cut police budgets and to reassign calls involving substance use, mental health problems and homelessness to other professionals. They are seeking to shrink the police mission to focus on crime, so public health and social welfare professionals can take on the non-crime responsibilities. Others argue these non-crime responsibilities are an important part of the police mission. 

In Los Angeles, this topic has been a frequent flashpoint between local law enforcement, activists and public health experts for more than a decade. Is there a role for the police in public health and harm reduction? Join researchers in public health and criminal justice, along with police practitioners, as we examine this crucial — and sometimes contentious — question.  

You’ll hear:

  • A roundtable discussion of harm reduction and what it means for police.
  • A presentation on why the police should play a role.
  • Addresses by leaders of police-led harm reduction programs in Los Angeles and Tempe, Arizona.

Invited experts include:

  • Dr. Leo Beletsky, Northeastern University Institute for Heath Equity and Social Justice Research.
  • Dr. Brandon del Pozo, former police chief, postdoctoral researcher at Rhode Island’s Miriam Hospital and the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University.
  • Sgt. Rob Ferraro, Tempe (AZ) Police Department.
  • Dr. David Goodman-Meza, UCLA Health.
  • Dr. Aili Malm, California State University Long Beach. 
  • Dr. Dina Perrone, California State University Long Beach. 
  • Shoshanna Scholar, Los Angeles County Department of Health Services.
  • Dr. Michael White, Arizona State University.

ASU’s Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions is made up of four schools and more than 20 research centers — all with a shared goal of advancing research and discovery of public value, and furthering the economic, social, cultural and overall health of the communities that it serves.