“Police do not create safety. Policing is largely reactionary. They come onto the scene after the fact.”
‘Police do not create safety’
“I know from experience, from education, from other people’s experience that I have been gifted, that most often when the police come, there are more problems—not less.”
“When I realized that, I was even more thankful that I didn’t call the police,” she said.
‘I don’t want him dead’
By the time Lewinski and someone else were forced to call law enforcement in 2015, the conflict between the couple had seriously escalated: In an attempt to protect herself, Lewinski stabbed her boyfriend in the arm after she said he put her in a chokehold. She went to jail for three days and wound up with a felony charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon on her record.If there’d been an alternative to the cops for addressing her domestic abuse—a chance to call someone earlier—Lewinski would’ve taken it. Partly because of that, she’s trying to create a solution for other people in similar situations.After her arrest, Lewinski co-founded the Asbury Park Transformative Justice Project. The group is hoping to formally establish so-called “community-run safety units,” staffed by volunteers and social workers, so residents have someone they can call for de-escalation when they don’t want to involve the police. And some people in Lewinski’s community are already relying on her and her colleagues for help. Recently, someone called Lewinski’s group because they thought their neighbor might be in a domestic violence situation and didn’t want to rely on traditional law enforcement. Lewinski and a volunteer therapist went and knocked on the neighbor’s door to see what they could do. Nobody answered, but they were able to leave a note saying they didn’t want to call the police and were able to help.
That’s an option Lewinski wishes she’d had. Her arrest did nothing to solve the actual problem at hand, she said. After she got out of jail, Lewinski went back to her abuser for a time, until she was eventually able to leave. And to her knowledge, he still hasn’t gotten counseling or resources that might help him deal with his anger or abusive tendencies.
“We’re taught that they [police] will help you,” Lewinski said, “but I know from experience, from education, from other people's experience that I have been gifted, that most often when the police come, there are more problems—not less.”