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Sayed Faisal Update from Mayor Siddiqui

April 6, 2023 Update with Recent Actions: 

The City Council passed multiple policy orders in January and February regarding a third-party investigator, implementing the Procedural Justice dashboard, increasing funding for mental health resources, and requesting the Police Department to begin using body cameras (the third request in the last 3 years). The City Manager recently released an update on aspects of that work, including:

  • Hiring the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) to independently review the Cambridge Police Department’s current training programs, policies, and protocols

  • A plan to implement body cameras

  • Evaluating less-lethal options for the City Council to review

  • A plan for the development of the procedural justice dashboard

  • Establishing the City’s new Community Safety Department, which has been in the works for over a year

  • Mental health resources for underserved communities (outlined in this agenda item)


On January 4, 2023, Arif Sayed Faisal, a 20-year-old Cambridge resident and Bangladeshi American college student, was shot and killed by a Cambridge Police Department officer. I have listened as many of you organized and demanded accountability and justice and I am committed to working toward both of those results. My Office has received numerous questions about this process and I will provide all information as it becomes available. 


The Investigation:

The City is cooperating as the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office conducts the investigation. After the investigation is complete a neutral judge will conduct an inquest to determine whether any criminal charges are appropriate. Once the inquest is complete, the neutral judge will write a report which is then forwarded to the Middlesex District Attorney to decide whether or not criminal charges are appropriate. If there are no further criminal proceedings, the Middlesex District Attorney's Office will make the report and other documents public. If there are criminal proceedings the public will be able to attend all court hearings, including any trial.

In Cambridge, our charter grants the City Manager power over the Police Department as well as oversight of personnel matters. There have been repeated demands from the community to release the name of the officer who shot Faisal, and I personally believe this is an important step for the sake of transparency, but a statement released last week made clear the City will not do so.

Next Steps:

My top priority has been supporting Faisal’s family who lost their only son. I have also begun working with my colleagues on the City Council over the last month to address this tragic situation. I called two Special Meetings of the City Council to discuss the Cambridge Police Department's practices, policies, and procedures and those meetings brought discussion on non-violent de-escalation techniques, and how the department handles mental health calls. I have cosponsored three City Council Policy Orders that have been passed already, pertaining to:

Body Cameras:

I was a cosponsor on a recent policy order which noted that the City Council has now requested body cameras on three separate occasions. I believe that body cameras are an important tool for transparency, but we cannot pretend that they create different outcomes. There is clear evidence that shows body cameras do not reduce police use of force or change systemic police violence. We all want answers, and body cameras in this case would have helped provide some, but body cameras are not a solution to the larger issues with policing.

Additional Support:

The City has made trauma counselors from Riverside Trauma Center available for residents who are looking for support during this time. Please call 617-349-4694 to be connected to these services.

This has been an extremely challenging time in the history of our city. I am available to talk at (617) 349-4321 or via email at mayor@cambridgema.gov.

It has been a solemn beginning to 2023 as we continue to process and mourn the tragic loss of Sayed Arif Faisal. We cannot shy away from the difficult work that lies ahead. The City Council has committed to 

  • Exploring alternative responses to emergency calls 

  • The implementation of body cameras 

  • Continued discussion with City Manager Huang and Commissioner Elow on improvements

  • Increase outreach of the City’s mental health resources

I will continue to provide updates on the status of the investigation and the commitments listed.

Page was posted on 2/23/2023 9:52 AM
Page was last modified on 12/31/2023 11:05 PM
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