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|Craig Kelley for Cambridge City Council in 2015|
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As I'm sure you all know, the incident between Harvard Professor Gates and CPD Sergeant Crowley has generated a lot of local, national and international attention. It has also caused the Cambridge Police Department to review not just the incident itself but also a variety of CPD's overall policies.
At this point, CPD is conducting a review of the arrest. As I understand things, this review is being done by CPD personnel and, when completed, will be signed off by the Police Commissioner. A summary of the reviews results will be made public. The review will be done in the next few weeks.
CPD is also starting a broader review of its training, practices, and policies and procedures. While this review is an immediate response to the Gates incident, it will be a broader review than just the incident itself. This review will be conducted by a Committee headed by the Executive Director of the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF: http://www.policeforum.org/). The Committee is still being formed, but it's anticipated to have a dozen or so members reflecting expertise in law enforcement, religious leaders, racial diversity, conflict resolution, educational professionals and so forth. While PERF will be paid for its services, the rest of the Committee will serve for free, though the City will cover travel and per diem expenses. This Committee will review CPD's operating procedures to determine what, if anything, may have been handled differently in the Gates affair and what, if anything, CPD could learn from it and do to improve and avoid similar issues in the future. The Committee will hold at least one public meeting, though its working meetings and all the documents used in them might not be made public. At this point, the Committee's task is not clearly defined, the hope being that it will cast a wide net and not be overly constrained by limitations at the beginning. It may research and analyze relevant data, such as arrest statistics or Cambridge's demographics, it might investigate ways to encourage 'de-escalation' of an event, it may look at CPD's internal review of the incident, it may have discussions with both Mr. Gates and Sgt. Crowley, etc, etc.
Ms. Jennifer Flagg has recently been hired by the Police Department, as an employee, not a consultant, to help facilitate the Committee review. Her phone number is 617-349-3377 and her email is JFlagg@Cambridgepolice.org. She hopes to have helped the Commissioner finalize the Committee by the end of August. After that, she will be helping the Committee do its work, both from a logistical standpoint (setting up meetings, coordinating information flow) and a professional standpoint (helping guide discussions). CPD will be putting information about the Committee on its website, but I am not sure when that will happen.
From a personal standpoint, I don't know enough about the specifics of the Gates affair to comment intelligently on it. Something(s) clearly went wrong along the way and I hope that we will be able to learn something useful from the event. I also hope CPD is a model of transparency during its review of the Gates incident. As much information as possible from CPD's internal review should be made public, and I hope that the Committee's proceedings are as open as possible. While some information will not be suitable for public release during this review, whenever CPD has a choice, it should err on the side of making information publically available. And where it can't, it should clearly explain why. Both the Internal Review and the special Commission are attempts to maintain and expand the public's trust in Police and City officials, and any excessive withholding of information will do more harm than good.
If you have any particular questions or concerns more suited for me than for Jennifer, feel free to send me an email at Craig@Craigkelley.org or to call me at 617-354-8353.
Thanks a lot.
Craig Kelley home