Public safety can’t be measured only by the absence of reported crime. It’s also important to look at the presence of safety. The City of Saint Paul Office of Neighborhood Safety (ONS) recently assisted with new research to create community-based indicators of public safety. These new indicators will help us better evaluate and measure public safety.

The Community-Based Indicators (CBI) Report was completed in partnership with the Harvard Kennedy School Government Performance Lab (GPL) and World Youth Connect (WYC), a local youth-led nonprofit. ONS assisted in developing the research’s target demographic and providing funding for WYC to assist with research activities. Interviews were conducted and analyzed independently of the City of Saint Paul.

The GPL used themes from these interviews to develop and prioritize indicators of public safety, such as playing outside and riding the train, and corresponding metrics that Saint Paul can use to measure each indicator, such as the number of young people utilizing public spaces. These indicators reflect the types of actions youth would take if they felt safe, providing a new tool that Saint Paul can use to measure the presence of safety in a neighborhood.

Many research participants said that they felt heard about their safety concerns, often for the first time. One participant shared that this research “lifted a little bit off my chest to finally let other people know what’s been going on, especially in my neighborhood.”

As a next step, ONS will test some of the indicators identified through this research to evaluate their effectiveness. We look forward to continuing to engage youth and their perspective throughout this work. In addition to making an impact locally, this research provides a blueprint for communities across the country to elevate the voices of those who are often excluded from the policymaking process.

Read the Community-Based Indicators Report

Office of Neighborhood Safety

Last Edited: April 26, 2024