By Cheryl Fiandaca

BOSTON (CBS) – The violent 2018 arrest of a naked black Harvard undergraduate student in the middle of Massachusetts Avenue in Cambridge sparked allegations of police brutality. An independent outside review found the officers acted appropriately and did not use excessive force, but Cambridge also has a Police Review and Advisory Board, and it had questions.

Brian Corr, the executive secretary for the Police Review and Advisory Board, told WBZ, “In a public meeting the police commissioner did come to, he explained what led to the event what had happened the actions of the officers and the review that was done of the event. The board was satisfied with the explanation and wanted to continue the conversation in general about the use of force in our community.”

Cambridge Police Superintendent Christine Elow talks about rebuilding trust with the community. (WBZ-TV)

Created more than 35 years ago to look into complaints of police misconduct, the board reviews internal investigations, conducts its own investigations and makes recommendations for discipline and changes to policies, practices and procedures.

Cambridge Police Superintendent Christine Elow said, “Having the cooperative relationship where we can share information, ask difficult questions, is critically important especially now. Police departments across the country really need to embrace the civilian oversight model if they are going to rebuild trust in the community.”

The black and Latino caucus as part of its 10-point plan to address racial justice wants all municipalities to establish independent review boards

State Representative Russell Holmes said, “We have to trust our police. The citizenry does not trust a system that they have no input into and no oversight. We have to remind ourselves we are paying for these police. They are accountable to us, and today, it does not seem that they are accountable to us at all

In addition to Cambridge, three other cities have community oversight boards. In Boston, there’s the Community Ombudsman Oversight Panel; in Pittsfield, a Police Advisory and Review Board was established last year; and Springfield has what it calls a Community Police Hearing Board.

Cheryl Fiandaca


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