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  • Community Safety Department Development Underway

    The City is committed to ensuring the Cambridge community has access to non police responses to crisis situations and creating a sense of safety for all who live, work, play and pray here. The development of the new Community Safety Department is guided by an understanding that a compassionate response to a mental health crisis is optimal for healing and de-escalation.

About This Department

Community Safety Graphic that explains the Alternative Response Process

The Community Safety Department seeks to provide evidence-informed services that are rooted in harm reduction and trauma-informed principles and grounded in the belief that all people deserve respect, autonomy, dignity, and opportunity. The new Community Safety Department will be comprised of non-public safety personnel who can coordinate programs and provide key community services that focus on behavioral health crisis (mental health, developmental disabilities, and substance use), violence prevention and intervention, and overall wellness. The Department provides an alternative response model for non-violent behavioral health crises with specialized field teams who serve as a primary response. These specialized teams employ their training as well as lived experiences to provide immediate support to individuals in crisis.

The City established the CSD in response to a City Council policy order to develop an unarmed alternative response program, as well as in response to community concerns about supporting Cambridge’s most vulnerable residents and enhancing violence prevention effort

Non-violent crisis calls without scene safety concerns will get a CSD response. However, as with all response plans for emergency services, scene safety for all is the first priority. If there is a scene safety concern, such as possible weapons or potential threat, police will respond and stabilize the scene first, then determine what additional resources are necessary.

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