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Public Safety for All

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What is “Public Safety for All?”

Public Safety for All is a multi-tiered, community-driven initiative to create and shape public safety policies and engagement that advances racial and social justice across all economic classes, ages, genders, races, ethnicities, and identities. In line with the City of Somerville’s priorities, the Public Safety for All initiative will embody the values of Equity, Transparency, Accountability, Innovation, and Social Justice. The Racial and Social Justice Department’s community engagement process has prioritized working closely with members of the community and elected leaders in each Ward to foster trust, build bridges, and plant deeper roots.

The work will culminate in policy recommendations that span a number of different focus areas, including internal police reforms, the investment of City funds toward equitable and accessible public safety projects, crime prevention recommendations, and more. The RSJ Department is actively focused on amplifying the voices and experiences of those who live and work in Somerville, including those who are our most vulnerable and impacted by social injustices.


Info Series

In the Spring and Summer of 2023, the RSJ Department partnered with Somerville service providers to create a webinar series focusing on the public safety systems, models, and providers currently in place in Somerville in advance of the release of the Public Safety for All Report.

Session 1: Community Outreach, Help and Recovery (COHR) Program
Hear about the mental health recovery, substance abuse recovery, and alternative to arrest services that the COHR team provides.

Session 2: Somerville Public Safety Data
Hear about how the Department of Racial and Social Justice captured the community's voice in the Public Safety for All Survey and get an inside look at how other data is being used to determine the state of public safety in Somerville.

Session 3: Public Safety Providers
Join Department of Racial and Social Justice Director Denise Molina Capers for a conversation surrounding how the City's service providers respond to public safety issues and some of the challenges they face. RSJ Director Molina Capers was joined by Somerville's Police Chief, Fire Chief, Constituent Services Director, and Health and Human Services Director for this live recording.

Session 4: Alternative Emergency Response Models I
Join Stephanie Guirand, founding member of The Black Response Cambridge, for an introductory conversation surrounding four different alternative emergency response models. This is the first series in a two-part webinar focused on alternative emergency response models.

Session 5: Alternative Emergency Response Models II
Continue the conversation with Stephanie Guirand surrounding alternative response models.


PSFA Preliminary Results Presentation
The RSJ Department presented preliminary findings before the Somerville City Council on Tuesday, November 21st, 2023. View the presentation below (starts at 1:23:00):

PSFA Open Dataset
You can now download and explore the PSFA Open Dataset. To learn more and access the data, visit:

PSFA Tableau Visualizations
Take a deep-dive into the PSFA data through our Tableau Dashboard. Try creating your own visualizations and exploring the results!

Task Force Updates

Winter 2024 Update


The Public Safety For All Task Force is a group of 20 people who have been brought together to help Mayor Ballantyne make decisions about how to design public safety systems in Somerville. Members are city employees, elected officials, community members, and experts in public safety. The Task Force has been meeting monthly since June, 2023.  

Since our last update in September, the Task Force has reviewed early findings from the Public Safety For All survey and data on patterns in police calls for service in Somerville. Task Force members have also researched alternative response models in cities across the country, and met with leaders from other cities to learn more about their approaches. Task Force members are scheduling ride-alongs and observations of the Somerville Police Department’s simulator training, to learn more about public safety issues in the city.

Community Outreach

Since September, the Community Engagement Subcommittee has:

  • Met with the Somerville Community Ambassadors to build pathways for information sharing between the Task Force and community members.
  • Brainstormed different ways to share the results from the Public Safety for All survey, and to get feedback from the community. This has included putting together a list of community organizations to reach out to when the Public Safety for All survey final report is ready.
  • Researched alternative response models in Portland, Oregon and presented an overview of these models to the PSFA Task Force.
  • Drafted regular progress updates, including this one, to help the community learn about the work of the PSFA Task Force and to share resources on public safety systems in Somerville and in other cities.
  • Created a community flier to share information about public safety in Somerville and to share ways in which community members can let us know what they want to see in the future of public safety in Somerville


The Drafting Subcommittee gathered and analyzed internal and external information on public safety models. This information was used to draft a list of key questions that will inform later recommendations. The full Task Force has been invited to give feedback on these questions and to suggest additional questions. 

Next steps:

  • Finalize list of questions
  • Invite full Task Force to share related resources and information
  • Translate this information into draft recommendations  


The Legal and Policy Subcommittee has met  with subject matter experts to learn about their experiences within their communities and to gather recommendations on  alternative response models. In December of 2023, we met with Isaac Yablo, Senior Adviser (Community Safety), City of Boston, and Sean Donovan, fmr. Implementation Director, City of Northampton, Department of Community Care. Next steps: 

  • Finalize meetings with other subject matter experts
  • Develop a “Do’s and Don'ts” document for alternative response models 

Fall 2023 Update

Legal & Policy Subcommittee

Subcommittee goals:

  • Create a “Dos and Don’ts” of Alternative Emergency Response based on local and state laws and regulations. These can be ideas, policy points, values, etc. that will guide us to a framework for what an alternative emergency response can and cannot be, what it should or should not do, and how it can best fit into our community.
  • Collect and share information about Alternative Emergency Response models that other cities and towns in Massachusetts have created and how those models are managed.

We are making a list of alternative emergency response experts we would like to learn from and we have started drafting questions to ask those people.

Drafting Subcommittee

Subcommittee goals:

  • Develop recommendations about the future of public safety in Somerville based on the wants and needs of community members, especially groups that have the greatest need for public safety support.
  • Connect with people doing similar work in Somerville and across Massachusetts as well as local groups that provide public safety support in order to learn together and work together to create a new public safety vision for Somerville.

We are currently identifying the resources that we will need and outlining the next steps to produce a report that is true to the Public Safety for All Task Force’s insights and recommendations.

Community Engagement Subcommittee

Subcommittee goals:

  • Learn about the work the City of Somerville has already done to find out what the community’s public safety needs and goals are.
  • Help the community learn about the work of the PSFA Task Force by sharing regular updates and by showing community members where they can find more information about how public safety works in Somerville and in other places.
  • Collect community feedback on public safety and on PSFA Task Force progress and share it with other Task Force subcommittees to help them do their work.

We are working with Racial and Social Justice Department staff to plan public events and other ways of connecting with community members. We look forward to meeting you!

Next Steps:

  • Members from the Public Safety for All Task Force will be present at upcoming Ward meetings to discuss the Task Force, their work, and answer questions.
  • Subcommittees and their members will continue to make progress on individual goals, including aggregating and sharing-out about public safety systems, identifying experts to learn from, and advancing draft recommendations.

Task Force Resources

Members of the Public Safety For All Task Force have been learning about existing public safety systems and resources in Somerville as we prepare to make recommendations about the future of public safety in our City.

Learn along with us!

  • The Public Safety For All (PSFA) webpage which provides background about the initiative and its goals  
  • Webinars exploring the public safety systems and resources available in Somerville can be found in the Info Series section of our website
  • A documentary on the Community Outreach Help and Recovery (COHR) team, which supports the behavioral and mental health of community members and is located within the Police Department
  • A recording of a 2023 presentation on some alternative emergency response systems
  • The 2023 report on the Somerville Police Department staffing and operations
  • Data on a variety of public safety concerns, including quality of life issues, traffic accidents, and criminal incidents
  • The 2022 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, which gathers information on the health behaviors, conditions, and experiences of Somerville high school students 

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