U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Community Update from Cambridge Police Commissioner Elow on January 4th Fatal Shooting

Following the tragic January 4th fatal police shooting of Arif Sayed Faisalthere have been calls by members within and beyond the Cambridge community for greater transparency, including the public release of the involved officer’s name.

Our police officers face complex, difficult, and dangerous situations. They are well-trained and educated to use only the degree and amount of force that is necessary and proportionate based on the totality of the circumstances. Deadly force is only authorized to protect others and/or an officer from what is believed to be a threat of death or serious bodily injury after as many de-escalation tactics are attempted as possible. There are some situations where we cannot make an immediate judgment following such use of force and they must be evaluated carefully and thoroughly. Situations where there is egregious misconduct and significant violations of the law would result in immediate action being taken, including the release of the identity of the involved officer(s) and the termination of their employment.


Following the fatal police shooting of Faisal, the Cambridge Police Department immediately engaged in our own preliminary administrative review, separate from the District Attorney’s process. Per departmental policy and consistent with reporting requirements that have been mandated by the Massachusetts Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) Commission, this internal process is intended to determine whether there are any policy, training, equipment, or discipline issues that should be addressed internally and/or reported to the POST Commission and the National Use of Force Data Collection Database. 

Our preliminary review has included interviewing all of the Cambridge Police officers who were on-scene leading up to and at the time of the fatal shooting, reviewing all completed incident reports (including use of force reports that are required by policy whenever a “police officer uses a firearm or other police-issued defensive weapon while on duty”), and reviewing all currently available evidence. Based on all of the information that has been reviewed so far, the department has not identified any egregious misconduct or significant policy, training, equipment, or disciplinary violations. The department can confirm that the involved officer, who remains on paid administrative leave, has had no complaints filed against them over the course of their 7-year career with the Cambridge Police Department. We will conclude the internal review process when we receive the completed findings from the District Attorney’s investigation.By statute, the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office assumes control of a death investigation, including the use of deadly force. All the evidence, reports, and findings of the Middlesex District Attorney’s independent investigation and inquest, a process1 in which a judge investigates the circumstances of a death and determines whether it resulted from any crime, will be made public.

We are deeply committed to constantly evaluating, learning, and improving following every experience, particularly critical incidents. The department is in the midst of a complete review and update of our policies, procedures, rules, and regulations. This will include developing a more formal policy for the timing and distribution of information following a critical incident. The complete review is an extension of the work we had already started by enrolling in the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA), whose primary focus is on improving how public safety services are provided. 


Additionally, we will be partnering with a third-party organization to look at what can be learned from the January 4th fatal shooting from the lens of our policies and procedures.  Further introspection and process includes: actively exploring, revisiting, and auditing existing and other less-than-lethal alternatives and tools such as body cameras to enhance transparency; evaluating ways to enhance the department and city’s capacity for alternative responses to mental health crisis’; and identifying new or enhanced prospective training opportunities that would support safe, effective crisis response services to residents with behavioral health challenges. 

We will work with residents, the City Council, and City Manager to determine how we can collectively move forward to best support our community.

Christine Elow

Police Commissioner 


1 https://www.mass.gov/doc/frequently-asked-questions-about-inquests/download

Page was posted on 2/14/2023 10:13 PM
Page was last modified on 7/25/2023 1:23 AM
Contact Us

How can we help?

Please provide as much detail below as possible so City staff can respond to your inquiry:

As a governmental entity, the Massachusetts Public Records Law applies to records made or received by the City. Any information received through use of this site is subject to the same provisions as information provided on paper.

Read our complete privacy statement

Service Requests

Enter a service request via SeeClickFix for things like missed trash pickups, potholes, etc., click here