Police Review & Advisory Board

The Police Review & Advisory Board was established by Cambridge City Ordinance in 1984 to:

  • Provide for citizen participation in reviewing Police Department policies, practices, and procedures;
  • Provide a prompt, impartial and fair investigation of complaints brought by individuals against members of the Cambridge Police Department; and
  • Develop programs and strategies to promote positive police/community relations and to provide opportunities for expanded discussions, improved understanding, and innovative ways of resolving differences.

The Board consists of five Cambridge residents who are representative the City's racial, social, and economic composition:

  • Ann Coyne (chair)
  • Laurance Kimbrough
  • Lucy Murray-Brown
  • Ted Robitaille
  • Beverly C. Sealey 

The Board generally meets on the last Wednesday of each month at 6:00 pm at 51 Inman St., in the Second Floor Conference Room. Agendas are published on the Monday before the meeting.

Filing a complaint:

You can begin filing a complaint:

• by phone: 617.349.6155
• by mail to: Police Review & Advisory Board, 51 Inman St., Cambridge, MA  02139
• in person at the Board's office at 51 Inman St., 2nd floor.

• by email: bcorr@cambridgema.gov

To file a complaint, you must provide a completed and signed complaint form:
• To download the complaint form, click here: 
Police Review & Advisory Board Complaint Form

Complaints may also be made directly to the 
Professional Standards Unit of the Cambridge Police Department by phone at 617.349.3384, in person at the Police Department at 125 Sixth St., Cambridge, or by emailing qualitycontrol@cambridgepolice.org

How the Complaint Process Works:

What types of complaints does the Police Review & Advisory Board investigate?

• Excessive use of force
• Use of discourteous or demeaning language
• Improper stop, arrest, search and seizure
• Inadequate investigation or improper police reports
• Discrimination on the basis of race, color, creed, ancestry, age, sexual orientation, sex, religion, disability, or national origin or any other criteria defined in federal and state guidelines.
• Harassment
• Improper police procedures
• Improper traffic citation or towing of a car by the police

What happens once a complaint is submitted?

The process begins with a complaint being filed with the Police Review and Advisory Board. The Board employs its own staff, and works with the Professional Standards Unit of the Police Department to investigate all complaints. An investigation includes interviews with both the complainant and involved police officer(s), as well as any other relevant individuals, and reviewing police reports, witness statements, and other pertinent information. The staff submits its investigative report to the Board, which reviews the report, and may accept the report or order additional investigation into the complaint. After the investigation process is completed, the Board will deliberate and make a determination whether or not there was a violation of policy or procedures, or whether it is inconclusive.

Depending on the finding, any party to the complaint may request that the Board order a hearing, which is done at the discretion of the Board based on the evidence the Board has received. If a hearing is held, the Board will render a final decision.

In addition, even if the Board finds that there was not a violation of policy or procedures, it may still make a recommendation to the City Manager and the Police Commissioner about changes which should be made.

How does someone submit a complaint?

Complaints may be filed with the staff of the Police Review & Advisory Board in person, by letter, or by telephone. In all cases, everyone making a complaint is required to provide signed statement describing what happened and the specific complaint. Complaints must be filed within 60 days of the incident.

For additional information on the process of filing a complaint, how complaints are resolved, and what to do when stopped by the police, please click here to download the Police Review & Advisory Board Information Brochure.