We have all seen various headlines describing a variety of tragic events, ranging from natural disasters to COVID-19, and even acts of gun violence from public safety officials. But what is public safety, and how does it impact society? In this article, we will explore everything about public safety and what lies ahead in the future.
What is public safety?
Public safety is about protecting all the different elements of society, including citizens, infrastructure and even the economy. Conventionally, according to the scholarly definition, public safety is about ‘the protection of the general public’, and police officers and firefighters are the people responsible for maintaining welfare.
However, in modern times, a much broader definition is used. The ‘hierarchy of human needs’ model by psychologist Abraham Maslow defines public safety as not only physical safety, but also security of money, belongings, health, families and even jobs.
Needless to say, public safety is a complex phenomenon. It is not just about physical wellbeing but also a lot of other things, such as the economy, infrastructure, and everything that impacts daily life.
The framework that ensures the protection and welfare of society comprises multiple departments such as police services, emergency services, government or city departments, community safety teams, and even transportation operators. The efficacy of public safety is dependent on the efficiency of each of these public departments and many other factors.
Why do we need public safety?
Events such as gun violence, drug use, cyber-attacks and natural disasters (such as typhoons, floods, and more) can have a major impact on the functioning of society at an individual, community, organizational and even national level. It can lead to financial and emotional difficulties and seriously threaten individuals’ public safety and wellbeing.
Keeping the public safe means managing the challenges caused by the ongoing illegal weapon and drug distribution problems, threats to sovereignty, extreme weather conditions, and even cybercrime attacks.
Benefits of a safe community
A safe community offers benefits that do not just encompass physical safety, community welfare and security and crime prevention. Public safety in a community also ensures the following:
• Reduced violence and overall injury costs
• Increased health and safety in the community
• An overall sense of pride in the community
• Friends and families are interested in moving into the community
• A change in the overall perception of the society
• An improvement in the quality of life of individuals and the community
• A reduction in duplication across government departments
• A systematic approach to easily identify issues and any other gaps in public safety
Perceptions of public safety have an impact on how individuals feel within the community and how they interact with others in society. Public safety is not just about physical protection and reducing crimes in the community, but also about building a community that is strong, vibrant, cohesive and interactive.
Informing the community about public safety and its promotion in the community is also effective in reducing the injury burden and increasing community safety. This can be attained by increasing community development and designing engagement programs such as road safety, safety in public places, sports safety, safety in public spaces, and more.
With public safety, individuals and families can enjoy a higher quality of life, participate in educational and leisure activities, and even participate in work while preserving income and assets.
Even organizations can benefit from improved public safety. Awareness of injury prevention can result in a lower number of disruptions at work, increased productivity and staff retention.
Public safety in the community can also improve the overall community outlook. A community can benefit from a safer, positive and productive population. As there will be a reduction in injury and crime, public healthcare and justice systems will have a lower demand.
Importance of public safety
In modern times, municipal, regional and federal governments all over the world have identified public safety as a major source of worry and importance. They are creating new departments and agencies to ensure that individuals and society, on the whole, are safe, making public safety a multifaceted problem.
Public safety plays a significant influence in shaping the economic, trading and financial prosperity of an area and society as a whole. The stability of society is a crucial stakeholder in every commercial activity. If a region is unsafe, then it is highly unlikely that a business will flourish or want to establish itself in that particular area. Investors would be hesitant to invest in the region if the crime rates are high and disastrous outcomes are more than likely.
This makes maintaining public safety in all the local and federal regions a priority. It is the responsibility of public safety officials to ensure adequate protection of the region and its citizens, along with combating the likelihood of disasters to the greatest extent possible and ensuring a speedy recovery after disasters in order to entice investors to invest in the region concerned.
So, unless a region’s public safety is up to the desired level, it will be difficult for the region to flourish economically. If the business and commercial ventures are not successful, the chances of a better quality of life for the residents will be difficult to achieve, and society will not flourish.
Similarly, if the crime rates are higher in a region, there will be significant disturbances in the social life of individuals. The lack of public safety can impact even the trades with other regions as the currency value will decline.
In extreme situations, residents may start moving out to safer places due to a lack of public safety.
What are the main challenges in maintaining public safety?
Most public safety departments and administrators face certain common issues when it comes to public safety. There are common challenges and threats that can impact the administration’s role in maintaining public safety in any community. Here are some of the key issues faced by public safety officials and departments:
• Disaster planning and recovery – Preventing and recovering from any natural disasters fall under the purview of public safety. In some locations, avoiding a disaster may not be possible, but the administration is unable to facilitate speedy recovery due to a lack of infrastructure and planning, which can create discontent in society.
• Losing the rule of law – Another challenge faced by administrators is the increasing number of activities in the region that negatively impact the rule of law. In such a state, expecting a recovery of the locality would be next to impossible as these activities can disrupt the infrastructure, the economy, and even the physical wellbeing of the citizens.
• Modernization and technological advancements – Although the addition of technological advances have made improvements in public safety, certain issues will always remain while using these modern tools. The increasing rates of cybercrime are one of the major threats to public safety. It is certainly an unwanted side effect of technological advancements.
• Dynamic nature of crimes – The nature of crimes is always changing. For example, even a decade ago, cybercrimes were not as common. Nowadays, the threat to digital security is ever increasing with the passage of time.
The future of public safety
The importance of public safety has never been more important than in the situations brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020. As the world experienced devastating headlines with major loss of life, failure of healthcare infrastructure, and more, it became clear that a significant improvement in public safety is needed. In addition, lives were lost due to police injustices and random acts of gun violence against specific communities.
Such systemic injustices are embedded in the system and need public intervention to force the necessary change and to improve the overall future of public safety.
A degree in public safety will help students choose from a variety of careers in the domain, which can include security, law enforcement, safety administration, and even emergency management. If you are wondering what is included in a career in public safety or law enforcement, you can pursue online courses in the field. Courses such as the Laurier Master of Public Safety can enlighten you with the relevant aspects of a profession in the public safety arena.
In addition to academic doubts, one always wonders what lies ahead in the public safety field of work. Will the public trust law enforcement officials? Will the policies regarding public safety change to become more inclusive? What will be the job demand for public safety professionals in the future? Is it the best time to enter this profession?
When it comes to the future of public safety, a lot needs to be considered. If you are hoping to attain a career in public safety, the public demand for police reforms can seem inspirational as well as intimidating. An individual can see challenges along with tremendous opportunities when it comes to improving the public safety system. Bringing about the necessary changes in the system and rebuilding the trust between the communities and enforcement professionals can be an exciting opportunity.
If you can see the opportunity in all of these tasks, then you are suited for a profession in public safety. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in 2019, the employment of public safety professionals will increase over the next decade. Of course, at that time, the BLS did not have an idea about the direction of public safety and, therefore, the professional landscape. So, despite the challenges and difficulties, public safety professionals will always be in demand.
Demand for public safety professionals will remain
Despite all the concerns about police brutality and inequality within communities, there is an inherent need for enforcement officials to maintain public safety. The physical, emotional and economic wellbeing of individuals depends on the ability of professionals to respond quickly in any difficult situation.
As long as there are disturbances in the community, the need for public safety officers will remain strong. With bigger threats such as pandemics and drug trafficking in the picture, there will be a requirement for more public safety administrators and federal agents.
Public safety professionals will have to spearhead the change
At its core, public safety is about protecting individuals and communities. Beyond the basics, the officers should also apply good judgment and tactics, be respectful, and offer empathy in the work they do.
However, over the past few years, the public safety officers have fallen short of their responsibilities, thereby lowering the community’s trust in law enforcement. To recover from such past actions, public safety professionals will have to step up and implement policy changes to bring back the trust.
Advancements in technology will break current barriers in public safety
When the future of public safety is discussed, it is important to consider the changes that technology has brought to the field. For example, working with technological brands can help improve video analysis and security; it can help ensure the safety of officers and the public, and even artificial intelligence can be used ethically to solve crimes faster.
Analytics solutions can help public safety officials dive deep into past data and analyze crime trends and disrupting activities. A better record management system can also help improve reaction times to any criminal activity negatively affecting society.
Changes and improvements in public safety are just beginning. As the world progresses, we can see that technology will help enhance public safety and improve the relationships between citizens and law enforcement officers, ensuring a higher level of safety across the communities.
Securing the communities and public safety is not just the sole responsibility of law enforcement officers. It should be a collaborative effort between community members, police departments and private security firms. Public safety is not just about preventing crime, but is also about maintaining the wellbeing of all the individuals and families in the community.