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Cambridge Police Provide Update on Central Square Outreach

2022 Central Square Community Outreach
The Cambridge Police Department has been investing additional resources, time, and energy into the increased safety and wellness of Central Square following a recent increase of reported and observed concerns in the area.

As an example, over the course of three days last week, several officers and staff conducted follow-ups and updated case notes on a number of individuals they encountered. Areas that have been prioritized include:
  • Carl Barron Plaza
  • The bus stop at Green Street and Magazine
  • Franklin Street and the Manning Apartments
  • Pearl Street Library
  • Saint Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church, Central Square Church, and St. Peter’s Church
  • Temple Street
  • Bigelow Street
At each location, officers have been seeking to locate and help any unhoused residents who may be in need of services, as well as looking to identify any active substance use, drug transactions, abandoned property, trespassing violations, and other quality-of-life issues.

Our officers connected with nearly 50 individuals, many unhoused, in these areas. All were offered services and many accepted a packet of information that will help residents locate and access temporary and longer-term shelter options, as well as how to locate showers, public toilets, food, and more.

One woman – who is in her 50s and had been reportedly sleeping under overhangs outside various businesses and city buildings – was referred to the Transitional Wellness Center as a long-term shelter resident. Also of note, while conducting outreach in Carl Barron Plaza, officers were flagged down for a trash fire outside 4 Central Square. After officers attempted to put out the fire with their own fire extinguisher, the Cambridge Fire Department responded and extinguished the blaze. From the preliminary investigation, a witness was located and they helped officers identify a possible suspect, who reportedly threw a small piece of cardboard in a trash can and intentionally set a fire.

These efforts have supplemented the extensive visibility and work being done within our Operations Unit. As a data-driven police department, we direct patrols in high-activity areas 7 days a week over the course of every shift. Additionally, we conduct high-impact patrols during the day and night shifts, 7 days a week, in areas that have seen an increase in quality of life and disorder complaints. The purpose of these assignments is to develop and document intelligence on specific issues and places and refer individuals in need of services for follow-up with our Family and Social Justice Section (which includes our Clinical Support Unit that is overseen by a psychologist and features licensed independent social workers). Officers will take enforcement action to address crime and quality of life problems, where appropriate, such as three separate drug-related arrests that also led to the recovery of crack cocaine and Crystal methamphetamine.

These patrols supplement foot patrol officers assigned to Central Square every shift (7 days a week) and officers assigned to both Central and Harvard Square. An additional officer has been recently hired for our late afternoon/evening shift 7 days a week to further enhance our visibility in Central Square’s high-activity locations.

We are also a very collaborative department, as we partner with the community to solve problems and improve public safety. That includes working very closely with the Central Square Business Improvement District (BID) to improve the overall health of the square. One of many highlights of this partnership, included our officers and BID working together to procure and deploy additional sharps containers in the square.

The collaborations have also led to consistent outreach that is focused on interventions. As examples, there is a multi-disciplinary outreach team (MDOT) that was founded by Cambridge Police officers and is now represented by various city and non-city agencies. They reach out year-round -- in-person – every Wednesday morning to members of our unhoused community. In addition to checking in on our unhoused residents to identify what their needs may be, the MDOT members distribute food, clothing, supplies, and other items. The Cambridge Police also participates in other weekly meetings, including the Boston Homeless Task Force that allows collaboration with Boston homeless providers in Boston and helps address people and issues that impact both cities; additionally, a Homeless Committee meeting is led by the Cambridge Healthcare for the Homeless Program, where high-utilizers of healthcare are discussed, including many of whom frequent the Central Square area. Furthermore, monthly and quarterly meetings are also held by the Cambridge Police with the Cambridge Hospital and City of Somerville.

We will look to continue providing frequent updates on these outreach initiatives as our concentration in Central Square continues.
Page was posted on 11/8/2022 10:02 AM
Page was last modified on 11/8/2022 10:03 AM
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