Public Safety - Denise Simmons

Public Safety

Denise has a record of working closely with the Cambridge Police Department to ensure that Cambridge residents are not only safe, but also informed. She has pushed to increase the level of communication between the police and the community, such as pushing legislation mandating that neighborhood meetings are convened within 72 hours of public safety concerns arising.

Denise has also worked to bring the police, local building management companies, and community representatives together to foster a climate of greater trust and collaboration. One example of this work has been her work in trying to proactively reduce the amount of summertime violence in our community. To that end, Denise has held a number of "Safe Streets, Safe City" meetings throughout this Council term, regularly bringing the Cambridge Police Department, local business leaders, apartment management companies, youth outreach workers, and members of the interfaith community together to discuss tactics for increasing the safety during the hot summer months, and looking to short circuit violence before it has the opportunity to take root.

In response to the pleas of many business owners and area residents, Denise has been leading the charge in urging the City to pilot a police kiosk or mini-outpost in Central Square, in order to ensure that the Cambridge Police have a more visible presence in Central Square, and to provide greater peace of mind to those who have shared their concerns about criminal or otherwise off-putting activity in this area, and who otherwise might avoid this area.

In her second term as Mayor, Denise has won plaudits for her leadership in the wake of the devastating fire in the Wellington-Harrington neighborhood in December 2016. Over 150 people were displaced by a 10-alarm fire on December 3, 2016, and as firefighters valiantly worked to contain the fire, Denise was on the scene with the City Manager and other City leaders, working to establish a Mayor's Fire Fund that would go on to collect and distribute over $1 million to fire victims. Denise set up the Mayor's Office as the Base of Operations for the City Manager's Office, numerous City Department Heads, the Red Cross, the Cambridge Housing Authority, and numerous community partners for daily strategy sessions throughout December, as the City and its partners worked to assess the damage, triage those who were impacted by the fire, and find both short term and then long term shelter and housing for those who were displaced. In so doing, Denise and the City leaders demonstrated how a city can and should respond in the wake of tragedy, to quickly get the necessary assistance to those who are most in need, and to quickly help people start getting back on their feet.   

Throughout her time on the City Council, Denise has continually worked with the Cambridge Housing Authority regarding quality of life issues and safety concerns for its tenants, and she has regularly worked to have a presence at community meetings around these issues. She established educational initiatives that seek to inform and engage women around the issue of domestic violence, and she has participated in a number of domestic violence awareness and preventative campaigns.

With the inauguration of Donald Trump as President in January 2017, Sanctuary Cities like Cambridge have been at odds with the federal government. Denise has repeatedly used her bully pulpit as a City Councilor and as Mayor to assure Cambridge residents that this community will not be bullied into turning its back on the most vulnerable among us. Through her State of the City address and numerous Town Hall meetings, Denise has worked to ensure that people understand that Cambridge will work hard to protect all of its residents, regardless of immigration status, national origin, or religious beliefs.

Citizens’ Privacy Rights: In prior Council terms, after careful consideration and intense debate, which included input from many Cambridge residents, Denise joined other members of the City Council in voting against the Department of Homeland Security’s plan to install surveillance cameras in various locations in the city. In this current term, Denise worked with the ACLU to bring forward legislation asking the City to draft a clear, coherent, and consistent policy on how it approaches surveillance technology, and this legislation is currently working its way through the City's vetting process so that the City Council and the community can begin rigorous discussions.