Co-Designing Public Safety: What Community Responders Can Learn from Violence Interventions

When designing a community responder program, local leaders should look to the insights and lessons offered by violence intervention models. For the past two decades, violence interventions have been successfully deploying credible messengers—individuals whose strong ties to the neighborhood help foster relationships and legitimacy with residents—to resolve community conflicts and engage high-risk individuals in healthier behaviors. This session brings together law enforcement and violence interventionists to think creatively about the role of credible messengers in community responder programs. Participants will hear directly from credible messengers themselves and will get a sneak preview from some localities that are planning how to integrate the lessons of violence intervention into community responder program development.

amos irwin

Amos Irwin, Program Director, Law Enforcement Action Partnership (LEAP)

Amos Irwin is the Program Director for the Law Enforcement Action Partnership, a national nonprofit organization of police, judges, and prosecutors who work to transform the justice system, from ending the War on Drugs to investing in Credible Messenger programs to prevent violence. Irwin co-authored LEAP’s report on the community responder model with Betsy Pearl of the Center for American Progress. He advises jurisdictions on tailoring the model to their local landscape, from Dayton, Ohio to Amherst, Massachusetts. Irwin earned his MA in International Relations from Tufts University and a BA from Amherst College.

Harold Medina, Chief, City of Albuquerque Police Department

Harold Medina started his career at the Albuquerque Police Department in 1995, where he was a patrol officer for nine years. During his time in the department, Medina has served as a sergeant, lieutenant, and commander. After exiting to serve as the chief of police for the Pueblo of Laguna, Medina was appointed to deputy chief for the Albuquerque Police Department in 2017, and then to the chief of police in March of 2021. He strongly follows the principles of community-oriented policing and has implemented the Community Engagement, Partnerships with Business Coalitions, and Youth and Elderly Outreach sectors within the Albuquerque Police Department.

Medina received a bachelor’s degree with a double major in biology and criminology from the University of New Mexico. He continued his education, attending the Police School of Staff and Command with Northwestern University. He also attended the Chief’s Development Program through Major City Chiefs.

Sam Vaughn, Program Manager, Office of Neighborhood Safety in Richmond, California

Sam Vaughn serves as Program Manager for the City of Richmond Office of Neighborhood Safety (ONS), where he is responsible for management of the Street Outreach and Operation Peacemaker Fellowship strategies. He is a national leader on youth violence issues and a committed mentor for violence-prone youth in what was once one of the top ten most dangerous cities in the country.

Vaughn’s experiences being mentored by elders while incarcerated for a decade inspired him to become a community leader and help other young men avoid his fate. Believing that violent youth will make better choices for themselves and their communities when able to visualize a healthier path and given life skills, the ONS fellowship program he leads serves as surrogate family for these young men. Over 80 percent of the ONS fellows have stayed away from gun violence and now live with much more hope and promise. Meanwhile, Richmond’s homicide rate has plummeted.

Alex Starapoli

Alexandra Staropoli, Senior Policy Fellow, Salvation and Social Justice

Alexandra Staropoli is a policy and strategy consultant based in New Jersey. She works on a range of issues, but primarily focuses on projects and campaigns that seek to dismantle systems of oppression through an intersectional approach. Her current clients include Newark Community Street Team, Salvation and Social Justice, and Fair Share Housing Center. Prior to consulting, Starapoli worked at the Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers, Drug Policy Alliance (New Jersey), the Maryland Governor’s Office of Crime Control & Prevention, and the Coalition for Juvenile Justice. She completed her BS in Family Science at the University of Maryland, College Park, and her JD at the University of Maryland School of Law.

Solomon Middleton Williams, Newark Community St Team, NJ (community-based public safety collective)