Public safety & law enforcement

Why this is important: Feeling safe and secure is a fundamental human need.1 At a community level, public safety is associated with quality of life and health, as it may directly impact people’s ability to engage in healthy behaviors or access resources for maintaining their health and preventing disease.2,3 For example:

      • Safety concerns may prevent people from walking in their neighborhood, thereby reducing their options for physical activity.
      • A parent may avoid using a local playground with their children because they are concerned that it is unsafe.

Law enforcement is a critical component of public safety, as it is one of the main approaches used to make communities feel safe. Law enforcement and crime are important because they impact people’s physical health and emotional well-being.4 For example:

      • Victims of crime can experience trauma from the event that lasts for years and impacts their well-being and aspects of their day-to-day functioning, including job performance.
      • A community member who does not trust local law enforcement officers to protect them and their family will be less likely to report a crime.

Efforts to improve quality of life should therefore consider community members’ public safety needs and areas of concern.

Definition: Public safety refers to the protection of the general public’s physical welfare through various approaches. These approaches include the use of law enforcement, medical emergency responders and waste removal to keep local parks safe and clean from toxic materials, to name a few.

The Quality of Life (QoL) Survey assessed various aspects of public safety, including residents’ feelings of personal safety, experiences with crime in their neighborhoods, and their satisfaction, trust and beliefs regarding local law enforcement.

Key Findings: Public Safety & Law Enforcement 2019 Fact Sheet

Data Source: 1 Maslow AH. A theory of human motivation. Psychological Review. 1943 Jul;50(4):370. 2 Timperio A, Veitch J, Carver A. Safety in numbers: does perceived safety mediate associations between the neighborhood social environment and physical activity among women living in disadvantaged neighborhoods?. Preventive Medicine. 2015 May 1;74:49-54.3. 3 Clark CR, Ommerborn MJ, Hickson DA, Grooms KN, Sims M, Taylor HA, Albert MA. Neighborhood disadvantage, neighborhood safety and cardiometabolic risk factors in African Americans: biosocial associations in the Jackson Heart study. PloS One. 2013 May 14;8(5):e63254. 4 Lorenc T, Clayton S, Neary D, Whitehead M, Petticrew M, Thomson H, Cummins S, Sowden A, Renton A. Crime, fear of crime, environment, and mental health and wellbeing: mapping review of theories and causal pathways. Health & Place. 2012 Jul 1;18(4):757-65.