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About the Department of Racial and Social Justice

The Department of Racial and Social Justice is the City's leading department in equity work 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: Reimagining Policing and Public Safety

As part of the City of Somerville's Reimagining Public Safety 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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Announcements

Somerville’s Racial and Social Justice Department Launches Police Staffing and Operations Analysis for Reimagining Policing and Public Safety Efforts

The City of Somerville’s Racial and Social Justice (RSJ) Department has contracted with Raftelis Financial Consultants, Inc. to conduct a staffing and operations analysis of the Somerville Police Department (SPD) as part of RSJ’s ongoing work around reimagining policing and public safety in Somerville. 

Raftelis has been tasked with measuring the workload of the SPD, studying staffing, operations, and organization, and analyzing that data. Once completed, this analysis will help inform both the Administration as well as community members who engage in reimagining efforts on the City’s public safety resources and needs.

“As we move forward with the work of reimagining policing and public safety, it is important that we do so with a full understanding of our community’s public safety needs, current SPD resources, and information about where changes can be made,” said Mayor Katjana Ballantyne. “The RSJ Department has already done a lot of important work in this area, and I look forward to continued conversations about how we can work together to support efforts around reimagining what public safety looks like in our community.”

RSJ staff members have undertaken a range of efforts to advance reimagining policing and public safety efforts including holding small group listening sessions with communities that have recently seen an increase in gun violence, launching efforts to establish a Youth Justice League to ensure young voices are heard, recruiting Reimaging Policing Community Engagement Ambassadors, expansive qualitative data gathering via dozens of meetings and interviews with residents and stakeholders, and other efforts grounded in grass-roots best practices for reaching persons who are often not heard. 

The RSJ Department is preparing for a community meeting later this month. Updates on RSJ’s work and information on how community members can get involved with reimagining policing and public safety and other racial and social justice initiatives will also be shared in multiple ways, including on the RSJ website, somervillema.gov/rsj, which is currently under construction.  

“This is a major step for us to make sure our work to inform reimagining of policing and public safety is fully informed, responsible, intentional, and transparent about where we are as a city now so that we can work with the community to explore and shape goals,” said Denise Molina Capers, Director of the Department of Racial and Social Justice. 

Chosen via a bid process according to state purchasing laws, Raftelis is a consulting firm with over 28 years of experience working with local governments and utilities. Public Safety analysis is among their municipal specialties. They have worked with 38 of the country’s 50 largest cities.

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 six key areas:

  • Equity & Inclusion
  • Reimagining Policing and Public Safety
  • Civilian Oversight 
  • RSJ Fund Disbursement
  • ADA 
  • Commissions
     

Accessibility Services & ADA Compliance

The ADA Division 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

RSJ 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 Lauren Spengler at lspengler@somervillema.gov.

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