The killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers on May 25 — which set off much-warranted protests — has led to new interest from local, state and federal policymakers on police reform.

While a lot of discussion has focused on chokeholds, body cameras and internal investigations, other methods with proven results use more of a public health approach.

Such measures include reducing police contact at schools and on streets to avoid confrontations and shifting funds from law enforcement to community-based programs such as employment initiatives and affordable housing. Decriminalizing low-level offenses, such as marijuana possession and loitering, while offering social services as alternatives to arrest, is also beneficial.

These approaches and more are detailed in APHA’s “Addressing Law Enforcement Violence As a Public Health Issue,” a policy statement formally adopted by APHA in 2018. The statement has become a go-to document for advocates looking to launch or fine-tune interventions.civil rights protest

“This evidence-based APHA statement is the access point for us as public health workers to enter into this work, enter into this movement,” said Omid Bagheri Garakani, MPH, co-author of the statement and a health policy advocate and educator at the University of Washington in Seattle, during a June webinar. “We simply cannot and will never police our way to public health.”

Under the policy statement, APHA supports redirecting funds from policing to programs involved in social determinants of health, including community-led health and violence-reduction strategies.

Continue reading this story from the August 2020 issue of The Nation's Health.

Photo by Susan Polan, courtesy APHA