Marc isn't afraid to work with all stake holders to pass sound policy
Marc has decades of experience advocating for progressive issues
Marc is a lifelong Cambridge resident:
Who truly understands Cambridge's values and people
Marc has dedicated his life to serving others
In the wake of the horrible violence that has occurred in our country over the past several days, many have emailed me asking what is the Cambridge Police Department doing to ensure that similar events don’t occur here. Let me begin by saying that I am so sad, angry, and frustrated by what is taking place across our country. I cannot watch another video of a young man of color lying on his back or having his hands up only to be shot. I can’t take police, dedicated people who serve the community, being shot. It must stop. I would also never say that Cambridge is perfect. We have race and class issues as well, many of which we don’t confront. I will say, however, that the Cambridge Police Department is far ahead of most other communities around the country when it comes to community policing. We are, in fact, sought out by other departments around the United States to advise and train them because we are considered a model for others to follow.
First and foremost, CPD’s commitment to community policing comes from the top. It is stated in the mission statement of the Department. It is expected and demanded that anyone working for the Cambridge Police adhere to this vision. The mission statement is: “The Cambridge Police Department is a dedicated and diverse group of professionals who are committed to working with the community to make the City of Cambridge a safe and desirable place to live. Our mission is to partner with the community to solve problems and improve public safety in a manner that is fair, impartial, transparent, and consistent”.
Second is training. The CPD has led the way and is a national model for how to train their officers. The entire Department has received specialized training that has helped to better serve this community and includes topics such as Policing the Teenage Brain, Mental Health First Aid, Managing Aggressive Behavior, Domestic and Gender-Based Violence, Elder Abuse, Procedural Justice and Police Legitimacy, Fair and Impartial Policing, Community Engagement, and LGBTQ Cultural Competency training to name but a few. Nearly one-third of Cambridge officers have been trained on Crisis Intervention Techniques with the goal of providing that training for the entire Department. According to Commissioner Chris Burk, “25 officers just participated in Trauma Informed Training that is considered to be a first in the country for a police department. Participating officers trained with local service providers to gain a better understanding and appreciation of officer wellness and resiliency, as well as trauma-informed approaches to calls for service and investigations with domestic violence and sexual assault survivors.”
Third is policies. The CPD has a number policies in place that are designed to monitor officer discretionary decision making, bias-based policing and vehicle stops and use of force reporting. The CPD uses data to drive supervisory review and ensure that officers are complying with these policies, and if a pattern is seen, they take administrative action, including having officers retrained. According to CPD statistics there has been a significant reduction in the overall number of citizen complaints and likewise the Police Review and Advisory Board (PRAB) complaint numbers have decreased. The Quality of Service Assessment survey numbers on average consistently rank the favorability of the police department with a +90% rate.
Fourth is having a diverse police department. The Cambridge Police Department was ranked by the Associated Press as one of the most balanced police departments in the nation. They exceed all national standards in every category except females where they fell short by only 1%. They currently have 44 officers who are multilingual and speak Spanish, Portuguese, Haitian/Creole, Chinese (Cantonese and Taiwanese), Greek, French, Tamil, Hindi, Arabic, Urdu and Russian.
Fifth is community relationships. The CPD has strong relationships in the community and has members of the command staff as police liaisons to various board and commissions; including the Police Review and Advisory Board, Human Services Commission, Peace Commission, Women’s Commission, GLBT Commission, Human Rights Commission, Persons with Disabilities Commission and the Family Policy Council. These liaisons not only act as a link to the police department but also serve as advocates for the work of the commissions. The CPD also collaborates and partners with every neighborhood group and many of the service providers and non-profits throughout the City.
Beyond that they have invested significant resources in community outreach efforts to our most vulnerable populations that include teams of officers who specialize in working with those struggling with homelessness and mental health issues. The police department has two officers specifically dedicated to working with the homeless and have created a social worker position to help officers interact and work with those struggling with mental illness. The Safety Net Collaborative where the CPD partners directly with the Cambridge Public Schools, Human Services Programs and the Cambridge Health Alliance have been so successful in reducing youth involvement in the criminal justice system, that it has been recognized as a national model.
As I stated initially, do I think we are perfect? No, I don’t. I work with many teenagers, mostly teenagers of color and not every interaction they have with the police is positive. Can a police officer shoot someone in Cambridge? Yes. What separates us, however, is that we have a city and a police department committed to ensuring that every member of this community is safe and treated fairly. What also encourages me is that the leadership of the CPD knows that they are not perfect. They are consistently striving to be better. This is not a police department that shy’s away or runs from self-evaluation. If they see a problem they will address it. Cambridge is not Baton Rouge, Minneapolis, Milwaukee, North Charleston, Baltimore, or Ferguson.
I know that when we see these horrible events taking place throughout the country we feel helpless because how can we influence what goes on in Baton Rouge? So we look to our own community for change. I think there is a lot of opportunity for us to continue to grow in Cambridge, but I truly believe that we can take pride and solace in the fact that we are already so far ahead of the curve.