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LEPH2021 Program Themes

Law enforcement and public health policies and practices interact in complex ways to influence community safety and wellbeingThe Law Enforcement sector, especially through the activities of public prosecutors and police agencies, has a crucial but often unacknowledged role in the protection and promotion of public health. Public Health is also an active partner in community safety and wellbeing, as well as confronting a huge range of complex social issues with implications for the Law Enforcement sector, such as mental health, infectious diseases (including the COVID-19 and HIV epidemics), road trauma, community and domestic violence, gang and gun violence, alcohol and drugs (especially opioid overdoses and methamphetamine) and emergency preparedness and disaster management. As well as providing ‘State of the Art’ updates from national and international experts in both police and public health, LEPH2021 will bring together the latest research, experience and examples of successful partnership initiatives from the widest range of settings, and resources and experts in translating research findings into practice. 

As in all the LEPH conferences, marginalized communities and health and justice inequities are important priority themes of LEPH2021. Marginalization is the enemy of security and health for all; the viral pandemic scenario playing out before us now, and involving all of us in every aspect of our lives, is demonstrating the truth of this, with poor communities and communities of color disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 epidemic. Inclusive Law Enforcement and Public Health partnerships work to overcome marginalization, by according equal or greater attention and support to populations at increased risk because they are excluded, because they have more exposure to determinants of ill-health and because they have unequal access to justice. The LEPH conferences seek to highlight the perspective of people with lived experience of different life and medical conditions and of their interactions with law enforcement. 

Overarching theme: Defying Boundaries 

Governments, communities and the historically specialized fields themselves are increasingly beginning to understand the inextricable links between public safety and public health. Health practitioners are increasingly seen as procurers of public safety, and police and public prosecutors as public health interventionists. The role of collaborative leaders is essential to shifting policies and practices towards more integrated practices – but there remain many defining boundaries which become barriers to collaboration and integration. These include disciplinary structures, professional cultures, traditions and rivalries, workloads and work practices and sheer inertia.  

The central theme of LEPH2021 is Defying Boundariesa call to action for policy-makers, practitioners and researchers to transgress the structures, cultures, and traditions that get in the way of aligning law enforcement and public health missions that are driven by the needs, values and concerns of the people they serve. Defying boundaries involves re-imagining cross-sector accountability for community safety and wellbeing. Defying boundaries involves the practical work of redistributing responsibilities across systems through a lens focused on racial, ethnic, socioeconomic and gender equity.  

In LEPH 2019, leadership, and specifically collaborative leadership, was identified as a major factor in generating visible and measurable outcomes, depart from siloed systems, and trigger organizational or cultural change. Systemic siloed practices, policies and budgets in the law enforcement and public health sectors have often led to failures to address complex social issues. Collaborative leadership is necessary to share and negotiate control and oversight both between sectors and with external stakeholders and community leaders. 

It takes courage to address and defy boundariesProfessions need the self-confidence to be open to outside scrutiny and comment by the people they serve. GLEPHA and the LEPH conferences are creating safe spaces for this to happen, where all have their eyes on the common goals of community safety and wellbeing. The LEPH2021 conference will advance progress towards tangible changes that harmonize law enforcement and public health policies and practices that are responsive to vulnerability, inequity and the social determinants of health and justice. 

Substantive themes 

Conference delegates will have robust opportunities to actively listen, learn from one another, debate difficult problems and inspire one another to make changes in their home jurisdictions. Delegates are encouraged to engage with the theme of Defying Boundaries through a range of substantive issues that sit squarely at the intersection of law enforcement and public health. These issues include, but are not limited to: 

  • Climate change  
  • Developments in digital/cyberspace at the intersection of LEPH  
  • Emergency preparedness and biosecurity/pandemics 
  • Health and well-being of first responders  
  • Human trafficking and sexual exploitation  
  • Information and data sharing across LEPH  
  • Injury prevention, including road trauma  
  • Law enforcement and harm reduction for illicit drug use  
  • Law enforcement and homelessness  
  • Law enforcement and immigration  
  • Law enforcement and mental health  
  • Multisectoral organization at the jurisdictional level  
  • Neuro-adversity – Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, Epilepsy, Traumatic Brain Injury   
  • Racial, socioeconomic and gender equity within and upheld by the law enforcement and public health sectors   
  • Research and Education at the LEPH intersection  
  • Roles of media and journalists in shaping the narratives around law enforcement and public health  
  • Roles of prosecutors in the public health mission  
  • Social determinants of health 
  • Trauma-informed approaches to policing and prosecution   
  • Veterans issues  
  • Violence prevention and the public health approach to policing violence   

 Read more about LEPH2021 conference themes here

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