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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.

Ongoing Work

Civilian Oversight

Mission: The Civilian Oversight Task Force will create recommendations to inform decision-making on a viable model for a Civilian Oversight body for SPD and/or the City of Somerville. 

Vision: The task force will lean on evidence-based research and data to support the needs of Somerville and will provide policy recommendations to Mayor Ballantyne in 2023.

Purpose: In order to increase transparency, public trust, and confidence in this process, the task force will bring together representations from the Somerville community and subject matter experts to inform the mayor's decisions around Civilian Oversight.

Public Safety Resource Information Report

Mission: The Public Safety for All Report will be designed to provide the City with a better understanding of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats to public safety in Somerville. This will allow the City to make evidence-based, informed decisions of potential areas for co-response, alternative, and/or unarmed response models.

Vision:  The vision of the Public Safety for All Report is to inform decision-making around the City’s Public Safety for All effort, to develop an understanding of identified public safety resource entities' desire and ability to be a part of an emergency response type model, and to facilitate constituents' access to non-policing public safety resources.

Purpose: The purpose of the Public Safety for All Report is to inform the Public Safety for All Task Force on the differences between response models, the public safety environment, and major concerns in Somerville, and insights as to proactive, productive next steps.

Public Safety for All Task Force

Mission: The Public Safety for All Task Force is part of a community-driven process to develop recommendations for public safety infrastructure in Somerville.

Vision: These recommendations will inform the adoption of an alternative, co-response, and/or unarmed response model to address calls for service and identified public safety needs in the City of Somerville.

Purpose: The task force will have all pertinent data, research, and information needed to

increase transparency, public trust, and confidence in the Public Safety for All process. This task force will bring together representation from the Somerville community, City Council, and subject matter experts to inform Mayor Ballantyne’s decisions around public safety initiatives.

RSJ Fund

Mission: The Racial and Social Justice Fund is a source of funding that will support efforts to dismantle systemic racism and social inequality in Somerville.

Vision: The Racial and Social Justice Fund is envisioned to exist as an enduring source of funding. This fund will be accessible to members and organizations within the community who have the passion and ability to do the work but lack the resources and opportunity.

Purpose: In line with our commitment to redress the impacts and deconstruct the underlying causes of racial and social injustice in all its forms, the Racial and Social Justice Fund will provide a sustainable source of funding, empowering the community to dismantle systemic racism and social inequality.

Stay Connected

Currently, the Department of Racial and Social Justice is facilitating Community Visioning focus groups, collecting community feedback, and developing resources and processes to help support a more transparent, accountable and equitable public safety infrastructure across Somerville.

The Public Safety for All survey is gathering critical feedback from a diverse set of community members who live and work in Somerville. You can take the survey here.

The ongoing Community Visioning Focus Group Sessions are designed to hear about lived experiences, concerns and recommendations from community members. You can sign-up for a session here.

The RSJ Department shares social media updates on our progress on Twitter and Facebook. You can reach the department at and check back here for updates soon.

Persons with disabilities who need auxiliary aids and services for effective communication (i.e., CART, ASL), written materials in alternative formats, or reasonable modifications in policies and procedures in order to access the programs, activities, and meetings of the City of Somerville should please contact Adrienne Pomeroy at 617-625-6600 x 2059 or

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.

Task Force Updates

September 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.

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