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About the Department of Racial and Social Justice

The Department of Racial and Social Justice (RSJ) leads the City of Somerville’s equity efforts and collaborates with city departments, constituents, and stakeholders to eliminate the institutional and structural systems that create racial inequities, social disparities, and injustices.

 

Contact Information
Denise Molina Capers, Esq.
Director of Racial and Social Justice

Employee Directory

Survey: Public Safety for All

As part of the City of Somerville’s Public Safety for All initiative, the Department of Racial and Social Justice (RSJ) invites members of the Somerville community to take this survey and share their thoughts and experiences on policing and public safety in Somerville. 

This survey will take about 5 minutes of your time. All responses are confidential and no identifying information will be collected.

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Initiatives

The City of Somerville is committed to eliminating institutional and structural racism and its intersections with other forms of oppression. The work of the RSJ Department has prioritized five key areas:

Accessibility Services & ADA Compliance

The City's ADA Division, which leads and manages the City in policy-setting, coordination, and training for ADA compliance, and proactively ensures the City's programs and services are compliant with Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act and other applicable state and local disability rights laws. This division also acts as the City staff liaison to the Commission for Persons with Disabilities and key City staff.

Commissions

The RSJ Department oversees and supports the work of the Human Rights Commission (HRC) and the Somerville Commission for Women (SCW) through staff attendance and participation in monthly meetings, activities, and events. Any questions on these commissions should be directed to Steven Flythe, Deputy Director at sflythe@somervillema.gov, or (781) 808-7502.

Get Involved & Stay Informed

1) Contact us: Text the RSJ Department at 781-808-7502 or email rsj@somervillema.gov.


2) Sign up for the City Newsletter for announcements and updates.


3) Take the Public Safety for All Survey: The RSJ Department is collecting feedback from community members and residents in the Public Safety for All Survey. The survey is brief, easy, and anonymous and your participation will help shape the future of public safety in Somerville.


4) Sign up for a Community Visioning Focus Group Session: As part of the Public Safety for All initiative, the RSJ Department is looking for interested community members who live or work in Somerville to better understand the needs and perceptions of policing and public safety.

Sign Up for a Community Visioning Focus Group Session


5) Apply to join the Civilian Oversight Task Force: The City of Somerville’s Department of Racial and Social Justice is seeking three Somerville community members to join RSJ’s Civilian Oversight Task Force. The 13-member Task Force will consist of these three open community seats, as well as additional community members, subject matter experts, and other key stakeholders. All applicants must live or work in Somerville. Ideal candidates will be invested in the expansion of public safety and promoting accountability in law enforcement models. Applicants must be at least 17 years old.

Task Force members will explore civilian oversight models for local law enforcement, gather data, and engage in research that will inform the future of a civilian oversight entity in Somerville, including its powers, duties, composition, and more. Members will be compensated for their time. Members will be expected to attend meetings, which will be hosted both virtually and in-person with a hybrid option, up to two hours per week over a period of no longer than four months. Members should also be prepared to attend potential additional meetings for subcommittees and readings. If virtual meetings create a barrier for you, please still apply, and our team will work to aid you with access and/or training.

Community members can also pick up printed applications at the Somerville City Hall front desk or by calling the RSJ Department at 781-808-8344. Applicants can fill out the online form, email their responses to rsj@somervillema.gov, or hand-deliver or mail them to Somerville City Hall, Attn: RSJ Department, 93 Highland Ave., Somerville, MA 02143. Applications are due by 7 p.m. on Friday, February 10, 2023.

APPLY TO JOIN THE CIVILIAN OVERSIGHT TASK FORCE


6) Apply to join the Public Safety for All Task Force: The City of Somerville’s Department of Racial and Social Justice is seeking three Somerville community members to join RSJ’s Public Safety for All Task Force. The 13-member Task Force will consist of these three open community seats, as well as additional community members, subject matter experts, and City officials. All applicants must live or work in Somerville. Ideal candidates will be invested in the expansion of public safety and promoting accountability in law enforcement models. Applicants must be at least 17 years old.

Task force members will review feedback from thousands of community members, as well as expert testimonials and independent data to craft public safety policy recommendations for the City of Somerville. In addition to drafting emergency response recommendations, Task Force members will also evaluate other public safety concerns in Somerville and recommend policies that help combat systemic racism and institutional barriers as they relate to public safety.

Public Safety for All Task Force members will be compensated for their time. Members will be expected to attend meetings up to five hours per week over a period of no longer than eight months. The meetings will be hosted both virtually and in person with a hybrid option. Task Force members should also be prepared to attend potential additional meetings for subcommittees and independent work. The City will provide access and/or training for any community members who are interested in participating but are concerned that virtual meetings may create an access barrier.

Community members can also pick up printed applications at the Somerville City Hall front desk or by calling the RSJ Department at 781-808-8344. Applicants can fill out the online form, email their responses to rsj@somervillema.gov, or hand-deliver or mail them to Somerville City Hall, Attn: RSJ Department, 93 Highland Ave., Somerville, MA 02143. Applications are due by 7 p.m. on Friday, February 24, 2023.

APPLY TO JOIN THE PUBLIC SAFETY FOR ALL TASK FORCE

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