Somerville police staffing study sparks controversy over speed of reform

Local activists and some elected officials criticized a recent study by Somerville Police Department personnel. the Town of Somerville announced on 8 March what it is Department of Racial and Social Justice hired a consulting firm to conduct a study on Somerville Police Department Staffing Proceduressparking frustration with the speed of police reform in Somerville.

the RSJ Department contracted with Raftelis Financial Consultants, Inc. in order to analyze the SPD operations and facilitate from Somerville goal of reinventing policing, according to a March 8 statement released by the city.

Raftelis was tasked with measuring the workload of the SPD, studying the workforce, operations and organization, and analyzing this data.“Wrote the town of Somerville in the press release. “When completed, this analysis will help inform both administration and community members who are committed to rethinking the City’s resource efforts and public safety needs.

Denise Molina Capersthe director of racial and social justice for the town of Somervillewrote in an email to the Daily that tthe RSJ department hope”Acquire a global understanding of the SPD… Analyze the management and organization of operations… [and] Analyze workforce and workload.

the SPD the staffing study is expected to take approximately two to four months to completeWorrying some residents and city councilors that the city is moving too slowly toward the goal of reinventing policing.

Somerville Councilman Willie Burnley Jr. told The Daily he thinks the city has fallen behind on many of the promises it made during the 2020 National Racial Justice Judgment.

At the time, there was a commitment from the town of Somerville, from [Mayor Joseph Curtatone]that we would begin this process of “reinventing policing,‘” Burnley Jr. mentioned. “[W]We were having these conversations in the summer of 2020. It’s the spring of 2022, and we’re just starting to get the job done. And for me, that’s really disappointing.

Molina Capers said the City is trying to be intentional about the staffing review being a community-driven process.

“Police and public safety reform is not linear and has its complexities,” wrote Molina Capers. “Very often, similar efforts have taken place in a vacuum, where the voices of those most affected and vulnerable are not sought, not heard and not taken into account when developing assessment processes and recommendations.”

Burnley Jr. also takes issue with the phrase “reinventing the police”, saying it misrepresents activists’ calls to defund the police.

I find the phrase ‘reimagining the police’ to be a watered down, co-opted phrase that was inserted by people who have ideological concerns about the real demands of the 2020 reckoning on racial justice and police brutality, which consisted to defund the police, on the reallocation of funds to social services and the alternative response to crises“said Burnley Jr.

Burnley Jr. believes the RSJ Department the staffing study is a distraction instead of what he sees as more tangible reforms.

It is quite disturbing to see how the [original] requests…have been twisted to say basically… ‘Let’s do a police staffing study,’ even though Somerville has done two in the past 20 years, “And that the staffing study be based primarily on what the police think staffing should be,‘ said Burnley Jr.”How did we go from ‘Defund the police’ to ‘The police should determine how the police change?’ To me, it’s weird and strange and defeatist.

Beatriz Gómez Mouakad, municipal councilor for Ward 5 of Somerville declined to comment.

Burnley Jr. believes that the whole conversation surrounding police reform in Somerville needs to be radically reframed.

We need to be broader in scope when determining how to restructure our government to achieve our goals in this regard and to live up to our values,Burnley Jr. mentioned. “Right now, I don’t believe we’re having that conversation as a city.

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