Chuck Wexler knows a bit about bettering police departments. As executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) — or what he calls the Washington, D.C.-based police think tank — Wexler has worked around the globe with policing projects seeking ways to deliver services more efficiently to different communities. Wexler can now add Cambridge to that list.

 

Chuck Wexler knows a bit about bettering police departments.


As executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) — or what he calls the Washington, D.C.-based police think tank — Wexler has worked around the globe with policing projects seeking ways to deliver services more efficiently to different communities.


Wexler can now add Cambridge to that list.


As chair of the city’s newly formed police review committee — created in the wake of the controversy surrounding the arrest of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. — Wexler said he wants to take the events that occurred on July 16 and help the city shape them into a more positive outcome.


“In many ways what happened on the 16th is perceived by different people in different ways,” he said. “A big part of this is to have a committee with independent-minded people.”


According to Wexler, the review panel is “a diverse committee of people from different backgrounds” and will be comprised of nine to 12 eager volunteers from across the county.


The city will pay for the committee member’s travel and lodging costs.


Since the committee is still being finalized, the names of those involved have not yet been released. The city has already tapped Wexler, along with Bob Wasserman of the Strategic Policy Partnership and Jennifer Flagg, who most recently worked at the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority and has experience at the Executive Office of Public Safety, to help facilitate.


The review committee was formed as a result of an incident where Cambridge Police Sgt. James Crowley arrested and charged Harvard University professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. with disorderly conduct, causing a national uproar surrounding issues of race and class. The charges were later dropped.


Wexler said he expects the committee’s work to start around mid-September and last up to five months.


“We are inclined to want to have something tangible come out of this,” he said.


Police Commissioner Robert Haas said the committee would seek some public input and operate in “as open a process as possible” while analyzing the department’s current policies, training, and community perception.


In an e-mail to residents, City Councilor Craig Kelley noted that the Cambridge Police Department is also currently conducting an internal review of the Gates arrest, which will be made public in the coming weeks.


“While some information will not be suitable for public release during this review, whenever CPD has a choice, it should err on the side of making information publicly available,” he wrote. “And where it can’t, it should clearly explain why.”


According to its Web site, PERF is an independent, nonprofit organization made up of police executives “dedicated to improving policing and advancing professionalism through research and involvement in public policy debate.”


For more information about PERF, visit www.policeforum.org.


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