Sunday, June 16, 2024

The City Manager’s Task Force to Examine the Future of Public Safety in Cambridge was appointed Thursday by City Manager Louis A. DePasquale, to be co-chaired by city councillors E. Denise Simmons and Marc McGovern and consists of 14 members who live or work in the city. The group will look at reforms to community safety “by mitigating police response to select calls for service while enhancing community cohesion to include restorative processes,” according to a city press release.

The forming of the task force follows calls for less police presence in responding to situations that don’t armed officers arriving, such as for mental health calls or in addressing issues concerning the homeless.

The group will meet virtually at least twice a month, starting this month, city officials said.

Named to the group were:

Khalil Abdur-Rashid, the Muslim chaplain at Harvard University

Chandra Bank, a conflict mediator for Cambridge Public Schools

Loren Crowe, a management consultant with a military background

Leo Gayne, public relations officer at East Cambridge Savings Bank and former aide to city councillor and mayor David Maher

Samuel M. Gebru, director of public affairs and strategic partnerships for the Black Economic Council of Massachusetts and a former candidate for City Council

Christina Giacobbe, the city’s director of emergency communications and 911

Rev. Jaron S. Green, senior pastor at Union Baptist Church

Tina-Marie Johnson, Cambridge Youth Council facilitator

Rev. Irene Monroe

Catherine Pemberton, a social worker with experience at the Cambridge Health Alliance and Cambridge Police Department

Christopher Schmidt

Rae Simpson, mental health advocate with experience at Harvard, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and as a board member with the National Alliance on Mental Illness

Queen-Cheyenne Wade, a leader at Black Response and Community For Us, By Us

Pastor Ellis Washington, St. Paul AME Church

“I want to thank each member of the task force for their willingness to play a pivotal role in helping shape the future of public safety in Cambridge,” DePasquale said in the press release. “This work will impact generations to come and improve the overall quality of service our public safety agencies provide our community.”

Other comments in the press release:

“Cambridge must continually be willing to explore how we keep our residents safe, and how we can build up greater trust and a sense of partnership between our public safety agencies and the public they serve,” said Simmons, chair of the council’s Civic Unity Committee.

“As a social worker for the past 25 years, I know the importance of clinical responses to people in crisis,” said McGovern, chair of the council’s Human Services & Veterans Committee. “I’m honored to be co-chairing this task force that will work toward implementing such a program in Cambridge.”

“I have long been supportive of creating an alternate or non-police response for appropriate non-emergency situations, particularly those involving individuals experiencing mental illness, and this group is an important step in moving ahead in that direction,” police commissioner Branville G. Bard Jr. said.

This post took significant amounts of material from a press release.