COVID-19 safety and programs

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About Community Safety


What is the Community Safety Program?

The goal of the Community Safety program is to make all Portlanders feel safe, connected, and welcomed.

Portland, and much of the nation, has a complex history of race relations and division rooted in public policy. The current racial justice movement forces us to acknowledge that US history, politics, and systems directly created inequities and violence against BIPOC communities, and that we still have much work to do to end racial injustice and inequity.

Keeping our communities safe means more than having well-lit streets and low crime rates; it means creating community-centric structures that work to end systemic racism in and from governmental policies and practices and building up communities and bridging the divide between them. We are prioritizing social justice, safety, equity, inclusion, and belonging for all to build more resilient communities and promote the common good.

A colorful wheel with separate parts describing all the different elements that go into community safety

What are “Upstream” and “Downstream” Safety Solutions?

“Downstream” solutions, like calling the police, are reactive solutions to conflicts and are employed while an issue is happening or after it has occurred. While sometimes these solutions are necessary and good, we must keep in mind that many downstream solutions rely heavily on punitive or penal measures from our criminal justice system and often perpetuate the unjust, racist ways our systems harm and disenfranchise communities.

The Community Safety program works with our diverse communities to prioritize “upstream” solutions which are proactive and preventative. As an example, Community Safety’s Neighbors Together trainings are designed to create inclusive spaces, events, and neighborhoods that feel safe and welcoming for all Portlanders. These trainings ask communities to collaborate on common solutions while building stronger relationships. Building stronger, collaborative relationships with our neighbors increases empathy and breaks down our biases. The goal of upstream solutions is that we work with one another to find solutions rather than being reactive or calling the police.

How does Community Safety Benefit my Community?

Community Safety helps our communities toward their safety goals by providing:

What is My Role in “Upstream” Solutions?

Upstream solutions, like the Neighbors Together program and Personal Safety Trainings, are preventative solutions. We support community-led safety programs to educate and empower Portlanders on how to recognize potential conflicts and how to take action to safely deescalate and resolve those conflicts. Some simple steps, such as getting to know your neighbors, can help break down unconscious biases and build more involved, inclusive communities.

We have taken a critical look at previous programs, like Neighborhood Watch, which is rooted in old crime prevention models that ask neighbors watch and report to police instead of working together and supporting each other in community-led approaches to safety. We have integrated the constructive parts of these old programs — connecting neighbors and building a shared sense of community, educating and empowering community members to handle potential hazards — and integrated them into our new programs and trainings while removing the parts that which held up unjust, racist, disciplinary systems or had the potential to create biases and divide our communities.

What programs does Community Safety offer?

We provide free trainings and workshops for groups of five or more people who live, work, go to school or play together in Portland. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, trainings are currently conducted virtually.

How it works:

  1. Community groups meet to identify a safety interest;
  2. We develop a shared agreement of the training topic;
  3. The Community Safety Team coordinates a training with the group.

Example trainings include:

  • Emergency preparedness
  • Personal safety
  • Active transportation, safe routes to school and pedestrian safety
  • Social connections and reducing social isolation
  • Youth safety
  • Public safety systems navigation and reporting hate and bias
  • Community advocacy and organizing
  • Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED)
  • Block party organizing and other street events
  • Multi-dwelling safety (apartments, condos)
  • Community care and litter removal events (schools, parks, block)
  • Bicycle theft prevention

How do I Request a Neighbors Together training?

Fill out our online form to request a Neighbors Together training session for you and your community!

Where Can I Find More Safety Resources?

The Community Safety program provides resources for many circumstances including COVID-19 safety, community building, and mental health maintenance. You can find those resources on our website.

Issues NOT Managed by Community Safety

Contact Us

For more information, visit our website, email, or call 503-823-4064.

Promote the Common Good

Civic Life is building stronger communities by supporting and empowering Portlanders. We think, act, and partner with our communities to better understand and take care of their diverse needs. We invite you to join us in this continuous, much needed work to make our communities safer and more welcoming for all.

Civic Life’s mission is to promote a culture of civic engagement by connecting all Portlanders to government and co-creating inclusive, safe, and livable communities.