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Commitment to Public Safety

Thursday, July 14, 2022

The City Administration and Cambridge Public Safety agencies are committed tow working with the community to keep Cambridge a safe and desirable place to live, work, and visit. Cambridge Police Department is committed to improving public safety in a manner that is fair, impartial, transparent, and consistent. In FY22, the City announced approval for the creation of a new Community Safety Department and appointed the first ever female Police Commissioner since the department's inception in 1859.  See more public safety highlights below:

New Cambridge Department of Community Safety (CDCS). The City Council approved a budget of $2.8 million for the creation of the Cambridge Department of Community Safety (CDCS) that will coordinate community driven solutions to enhance safety and wellness through key services and programs targeted at our most vulnerable populations. CDCS will oversee the Cambridge Alternative Response Program and other efforts to supplement Cambridge Public Safety agencies in making the community a safer place to live, work, and experience for all.

Christine Elow Becomes First Female Police Commissioner. In January 2022, Christine Elow was named Commissioner of the Cambridge Police Department (CPD) becoming the first woman to lead the Department since its inception in 1859. Elow joined CPD in 1995 after serving in the U.S. Navy. She served in the Patrol Division and oversaw the Professional Standards Unit, where she was responsible for receiving, processing, and investigating complaints made against members of the Department. She later served as Deputy Superintendent for Day Patrol and Community Services. In 2017, Elow was appointed Superintendent, making her the highest-ranking female officer in CPD history.

Accreditation from Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA). In FY22, CPD began a complete review and re-write of its policies, procedures, rules, and regulations through the lens of procedural justice. A multi-year process, obtaining CALEA accreditation is considered the gold standard in law enforcement and mirrors the department’s mission of procedurally just policing. As the result of the work completed to date, CPD has worked on strengthening existing and identifying new policies.

Young Adult Diversion Program. Building off the work of its nationally renowned Safety Net Collaborative, CPD has partnered with the Middlesex DA’s Office and their young adult diversion program to increase the capacity for young Cambridge adults to find alternatives to criminal prosecution. In 2021, the number of Cambridge juveniles arrested represented the lowest number since the Safety Net Collaborative was established in 2008.

Pathways to Success. The City of Cambridge is developing a plan focused on violence remediation and prevention for young adults ages of 18-35. Driven by extensive research, interviews, and data analysis, the “Pathways to Success” project is working with City departments to help identify gaps and design more refined programming and marketing plans that effectively target and service our young people, address existing, and help prevent future violence. A final strategic plan is expected to be completed in September 2022. 

Supporting Residents with Mental Illness. CPD launched the Clinicians and Police (CAPS) Initiative in partnership with the Cambridge Health Alliance and Somerville Police Department to improve communication and collaboration with mental health service providers and support our most vulnerable populations. Participating agencies meet monthly with providers at Cambridge Health Alliance, Cambridge Healthcare for the Homeless, and Vinfen. Since its inception in 2021, CAPS has worked with over 60 individuals. In FY22, CAPS enrolled 10 high-risk individuals without providers into care at Cambridge Health Alliance.

New Online Tools to Better Serve the Community

  • CPD introduced a new website (cambridgepolice.org) that includes near-real time information on critical incidents; a data center with open data sets, crime reports; and a transparency portal with commonly requested public materials.
  • CPD is developing a new dashboard based on arrests, summons, and citation data that focus on two areas that can create barriers to community trust of law enforcement: race and transparency. Dashboard information can be filtered by race, ethnicity, neighborhood, and date, going back to 2010.
  • A new traffic crash open dataset, which updates weekdays at 12 p.m. is now available.
  • CPD and the Department of Human Service Programs created a centralized website for diversion-based and other programs for Cambridge youth and young adults, to help address violence prevention. Cambridgema.gov/violenceprevention

Cambridge Emergency Communications Department, which operates the City’s Combined Emergency Communications and 911 Center (ECC) managed approximately 39,835 911 calls in FY22.*

Cambridge Fire Department (CFD) responded to approximately 16,150 emergency incidents which generated approximately 35,753 responses by fire companies in FY22.* *Numbers are estimated due to publication deadline.

COVID-19 Testing & Vaccination Efforts. In FY21 and FY22, Cambridge Fire Department, in collaboration with Cambridge Public Health and Cambridge Police departments conducted citywide COVID-19 testing, and in January 2021 began providing COVID-19 vaccinations, following state and federal guidance.
(See COVID-19 section)


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