Friday, May 24, 2024

There was supposed to be a progress report posted online about the Cambridge Review Committee, formed to look into issues surrounding the July 16 arrest of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. that created a firestorm of issues related to race and police discretion.

So said a committee representative to members of the Police Review and Advisory Board at its Feb. 24 meeting, and the City Council was told the same thing, councillor Ken Reeves noted Monday. The report was to have been posted to the Cambridge Police Department Web site.

It hasn’t been, as of Saturday — nearly two weeks after the official March 1 date at the top of the progress report — so Cambridge Day is making it available here as a PDF. The copy obtained by Cambridge Day did not come from official representatives of the Cambridge Police Department. The source handed it over because it was intended to be made public but hadn’t been.

The report, which reassures that “the committee’s work has been broad-based and thorough,” doesn’t discuss conclusions. Instead it describes the efforts its dozen members have taken and

notes that efforts already are being undertaken in the community to address the issues of trust that are the focus of the committee’s work. Similarly, the committee is encouraged by various efforts initiated by the Cambridge Police Department. For example, the department has begun experimenting with alternate solutions in citizen complaint cases, and it has begun to adopt the nationally recognized Tools for Tolerance training program for officers.

Police spokeswoman Jennifer Flagg said Thursday that not every councillor has been met with by members of the committee, as was promised March 3 after councillors complained at their meeting two days earlier that they had not been kept up to date with the work of the $210,000 committee. These face-to-face progress reports were being done individually so members of the public wouldn’t be allowed by public-meeting laws to hear the committee’s progress, Flagg explained. The complication of scheduling and following through on nine separate meetings seems to have slowed the process, and Flagg indicated Saturday that, in fact, the progress report hadn’t been posted because the briefings weren’t completed.

Councillors have been given it and had a chance to read it, however, as have City Manager Robert W. Healy and Police Commissioner Robert Haas. It is an innocuous document, and councillors asked for their briefings in part because the progress report didn’t provide the information they wanted.

The committee “will meet again in March, and hopes to produce its final report in the late spring,” the progress report says.