In the wake of a deadly police shooting in their city, Cambridge police have hired an independent consultant to review department policies and procedures to make recommendations for improvement.
Washington, D.C.-based Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) will look at training protocols, policies and procedures, and interview trainers, dispatchers and response team members to see where improvements can be made. Specific attention will be paid to what led up to the fatal shooting of Arif Sayes Faisal on Jan. 4.
Faisal, 20, a UMass Boston computer engineering student, was shot and killed by a police officer during a confrontation in Cambridge, according to authorities. He was allegedly wielding a 12-inch knife at the time.
The deadly police shooting has sparked protests and outrage in Cambridge, leading city officials to announce a series of reforms, including a proposal to eventually have all officers wear body cameras. An independent investigation into the shooting by the district attorney's office is underway.
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Authorities have said that police received a 911 call that afternoon saying that a man was seen jumping out of the window of an apartment with the weapon and appeared to be cutting himself with it, as well as broken glass from the window. Officers and paramedics found the man, later identified as Faisal, bleeding in an alley.
He then reportedly ran with the knife for several blocks after seeing police, who requested that he drop the weapon, according to a preliminary investigation by the Middlesex district attorney’s office and police.
Faisal then reportedly moved toward the police while still holding the knife, even when they fired a non-lethal round in an attempt to de-escalate the situation. Authorities said Faisal continued to advance toward police. One officer fired a gun, striking Faisal, who later died at an area hospital.
“Uniquely suited to perform this work, PERF is a highly respected leader within law enforcement. They will help us continue to learn and grow from the January 4th fatal shooting, particularly from the lens of our policies and procedures," Police Commissioner Christine Elow said in a media statement. "Additionally, we expect they will help us with recommendations on less-than-lethal alternatives, how we could evolve the department and city’s capacity for alternative responses to mental health crisis’; and identify new or enhanced prospective training opportunities that would support safe, effective crisis response services to residents with behavioral health challenges."
Cambridge police had already committed in 2022 to a program through the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA) to review department policies, procedures and regulations to strengthen their goals of protecting the community. This will be a continuation of that work.
The final report from PERF will be made available to the public.