WASHTENAW COUNTY, Mich. (CBS DETROIT) — A Michigan coalition received a $50,000 grant from United Way of Washtenaw County to develop a non-police response program in Ann Arbor.

According to a press release, the Coalition to Re-Envisioning Our Safety (CROS) developed the program after the Ann Arbor City Council passed a resolution in 2021 directing the city administrator to develop an unarmed public safety response program.

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The coalition includes faith leaders, social workers, therapists, public health and healthcare workers, researchers, community builders, racial, justice organizers and activists.

Officials say the program is part of a series of initiatives involving Eastern Michigan University’s Southeast Michigan Criminal Justice Policy Research Project (SMART) to facilitate community-led projects in the region.

Kevin Karpiak, director of SMART, is also a member of the coalition.

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“What’s exciting about the work that CROS is doing, and why I’m so happy to be a part of it, is that it’s a real opportunity for Washtenaw County to be a national leader on these issues,” Karpiak said. “We’re showing the benefits of directing the resources and expertise of higher education into community-led efforts to address contemporary challenges.”

Other programs include collaborations with the Ann Arbor Police Department and Independent Community Police Oversight Commission, the East Dearborn Downtown Development Association, and EMU’s Public Safety Oversight Committee.

“In the wake of public reassessments, over the last few years, of how we provide and administer public safety, many municipalities are exploring new and creative ways to provide care and safety that do not pass through the traditional mechanisms of the criminal justice system,” Karpiak said. “Among these innovations are ‘alternative response’ or ‘unarmed non-police response’ programs.”

For more information, CROS’ website at reenvisionoursafety.org and SMART at emich.edu/smart-research-project.

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