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May 2023 Community Safety Department Update

The City of Cambridge is excited to provide an update on the development of the Cambridge Community Safety Department (CSD).  The team has been hard at work creating this new department and getting ready to have non police responders going out on mental health 911 calls this Fall, 2023. The CSD has been working on staffing, establishing the types of 911 calls that will receive a CSD response, receiving technical assistance, creating and implementing a Steering Committee, drafting mission and values statements, creating a training plan for responders, community engagement, launching a webpage and other logistics for operational readiness.  



The current staffing of the CSD includes Liz Speakman, LICSW, Interim Director, Michele Scott, Program Coordinator and Marie Mathieu, part-time Clinical Consultant.  


Liz has over 20 years of experience in the fields of Domestic Violence and Trauma. She received her MSW from Salem State University in 2005 and has held independent clinical licensure since 2007. She worked at Mass General Hospital for nine years as the Director of the HAVEN Program (the in-house DV program providing advocacy, training and policy for MGH). Liz has been with the City since October 2014 as the Coordinator of the Domestic and Gender-Based Violence Prevention Initiative where she had led the effort to create the first of its kind Trauma Informed Law Enforcement Initiative, co-created a local men’s engagement group, trained thousands of city staff and community providers and provided consultation to a variety of city departments on DV policies and procedures.  


Michele Scott began as the Program Coordinator on February 13, 2023. Michele’s career has been serving the people of Cambridge as a Co-Director of the Cambridge Sisters Program, Teen Youth Center Director, Family Support Specialist at Bridges Homeward (formally Cambridge Family and Children’s Service) and as the Case Manager of the Cambridge Works Program. These varying positions and being a Cambridge resident have enabled Michele to get very familiar with the citizens and resources here in Cambridge. This knowledge will be helpful to help establish CSD and bridge connections with the community and all the resources. The possibility of what this new department can create is exciting to Michele because she cares deeply about the community, of which she is also a member.  


Marie Mathieu is the CSD Clinical Consultant providing support around clinical issues. Marie brings over a decade of experience working with individuals experiencing mental health crises. She is also well-versed with the available resources in the City as the library social worker. Marie has been working to create a comprehensive resource guide for incoming Responders and provide Mental Health First Aid training. She has also been assisting with the recruitment and interview process.  


The CSD’s staffing model for FY 24 includes a Director, Program Coordinator, two Clinical Coordinators, Administrative Coordinator, four Crisis Responders and a Data Analyst. As of today, the CSD has an Interim Director and Program Coordinator in place as well as a part time Clinical Consultant. The Crisis Responders, Clinical Coordinators and Administrative Coordinator positions are currently posted and actively recruiting applicants.   

Types of Calls

The 911 call codes that we are poised to respond to once our team is up and running are as follows:  

  • Check person – Report of welfare checks when no crimes are reported or suspected (i.e. Loved one calls that they have been unable to reach the resident or when a provider calls because the person missed their appointment)  

  • Drinking in Public - Reports of intoxicated individuals/homeless in public places when there is no scene safety report  

  • Notify Citizen - Delivering emergency/death notification messages  

  • Psych/Mental Health – Non-suicidal and alert (with first party verification) OMEGA/Referral for mental health resources (Psych/Mental Health Conditions/Suicide Attempt/Abnormal Behavior 25O1) These calls are already being referred to 988/BHHL or CHA CBHC  

  • Psych/Mental Health – Suicide ideation and alert (with first party verification) OMEGA/Referral for mental health resources (Psych/Mental Health Conditions/Suicide Attempt/Abnormal Behavior 25O1) These calls are already being referred to 988/BHHL or CHA CBHC  

  • Psych/Mental Health - Non-suicidal and alert (without first party verification) has not made a suicide attempt (Psych/Mental Health Conditions/Suicide Attempt/Abnormal Behavior 25A1) – pending med control approval  

  • Psych/Mental Health – Suicide ideation and alert (without first party verification) has not made a suicide attempt (Psych/Mental Health Conditions/Suicide Attempt/Abnormal Behavior 25A2) – pending med control approval  

  • Sick Person - Call for someone feeling anxious or nervous but not suicidal (Sick Person 26019) – pending med control approval  



Technical Assistance

The CSD has an agreement with the team at the Center for Policing Equity for Technical Assistance and they have agreed to assist in program evaluation efforts. They will be providing assistance in developing an evaluation plan including facilitating a meeting with stakeholders on the development of purpose, goals and metrics for the CSD.  


The Harvard Kennedy School’s Government Performance Lab opened up applications for local governments to receive technical assistance that we applied for. Additionally, Community Action Partners has opened up their opportunity for consulting support so we are planning to apply for that as well. 



Steering Committee

In March, we created the CSD Steering Committee (SC) consisting of community members, city staff and local service providers. The group meets the 2nd and 4th Tuesday every month and has developed the new name, CARE (Community Assistance and Response and Engagement), mission statement and values statements for the CSD. The SC will continue to meet to work on community engagement, development of a plan to disseminate money in the community and providing general feedback on the creation of the CSD.  

Members of the Steering Committee:  

  • Samuel Gebru, Managing Director, Black Lion Strategies, Professor at Tufts  

  • Christina Giacobbe, Director of Emergency Communications, City of Cambridge  

  • Kate Moore, Director of Emergency Services, North Suffolk Community Services  

  • Joan Taglieri, Senior Director, Psychiatry, Cambridge Health Alliance  

  • Shameka Gregory, Director of Equity and Justice, Transition House  

  • Deidre Travis Brown, Chief of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, City of Cambridge  

  • Lynne Tyree, Case Manager, City of Cambridge Multi-Service Center  

  • Michele Scott, CSD Program Coordinator  

  • Chandra Banks, Violence Prevention Specialist, Masters in Risk Prevention, Previous Conflict Management at the Cambridge Public School District  

  • Niko Emack Bazalais, Graduate Student at Harvard and Adjunct Professor at Emerson College  

  • Albert Pless, Director, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion for the Town of Andover and former Program Manager, Men’s Health League, Cambridge Public Health Department  

  • Marie Mathieu, Social Worker, City of Cambridge Library and CSD Clinical Consultant 

with expert consultation from Crystal Rosa, City of Cambridge Language Access Manager 




The Cambridge Community Safety Department’s is to provide additional services to enhance the community’s health and well-being. We value compassion in our prevention and intervention efforts.  


The Community Safety Department is guided by the following values:


  1.   We are continuously learning, evolving and reimagining our approach in order to best meet the needs of the community we serve. We embrace a growth mindset and value curiosity, humility, and our shared humanity.  
  2. We commit to living restorative practices such as building empathy, compassion, trust and mutual respect in all we do.  
  3. We center relationships, partnerships, authentic collaboration and joy in our work. We are guided by the wisdom, insights, and experiences of those who came before us and those who are doing the work today to build solutions community-wide. We are intentionally laying groundwork for the future we envision.  
  4. We are consciously not reproducing systems of oppression. We aim to create equitable, non-racist, and non-discriminatory ways of serving our community.  
  5. We acknowledge the historical implications of the criminal legal system and the harm it has done to our communities. With this understanding, we value the dignity and humanity of all people.  


Training Plan

We have been spending some time thinking about what trainings will be beneficial for our responders once we hire them. We have spoken to programs that are up and running about training ideas, we have brainstormed ourselves, and received suggestions from community organizations. A few of the trainings we know that we need to have are: Mental Health First Aid, Introduction to Domestic Violence, Conflict Mediation Skills, 1st Aid and CPR, De-escalation among many others. We are continuing to build our training plan.  



Community Engagement

Over the past few months, Michele Scott has been out in the community speaking to different organizations to discuss CSD and the work that we are planning to do, what the community would like to see us do and answering any questions about CSD. A sample of the groups that we have met with so far are: My Brothers Keeper, Cambridge Community Foundation, Cambridge YWCA, Margaret Fuller Neighborhood House, Agenda for Children, MIT Job Connector, Leadership Team of the City of Cambridge Department of Human Service Programs, Community Engagement Team, Cambridge Women’s Commission. There is an excitement about the possibilities that CSD brings to the Cambridge community and willingness to support and work alongside of CSD.  


Other updates on operational readiness:  

  • We have contracted with a graphic designer to assist in the development of a logo that will reflect the mission and values of the CARE team. Once we have a logo, we will purchase uniforms and other branding items.  

  • Our coverage plan currently includes a model for two teams of three staff which would include two Crisis Responders and one Clinical Coordinator per team. We are aiming to provide 911 coverage Monday through Friday 10 am-10 pm. We understand that our coverage model and staffing plan will change as we gain a better understanding of the needs and opportunities in the community for an alternative response.  

  • We will be moving into our new office space at 689 Mass Ave by June 2023.  

  • We are working with City IT to review software options to ensure we have the capacity and ability to collect data in a secure manner with appropriate separation from public safety. We are also eager to have a software option that will provide timely program evaluation data and the ability to publish a public dashboard. 


We have also launched a very basic webpage www.cambridgesafety.org that will be updated regularly to reflect the progress of the new department.  

Page was posted on 5/10/2023 1:21 PM
Page was last modified on 10/2/2023 11:31 AM
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