Goals, Responsibilities & Timeline


Newton Police Reform Task Force

Goals, Responsibilities and Timeline

July 8, 2020

I am deeply grateful to the twelve members of the Newton Police Reform Task Force for undertaking a holistic assessment of the Newton Police Department. I have convened this advisory group to make recommendations to me on NPD’s strategic direction for the coming years and decades.

I have brought together individuals with diverse backgrounds, professions and life experiences. They come with fresh eyes and new ideas. Each is committed to bringing their critical and independent perspective to this advisory panel.

I am asking the Newton Police Reform Task Force to provide insights and recommendations on the following areas:

  • Mission, Values and Goals of the Newton Police Department (NPD)

  • Current Strengths and Challenges (grounded in the perspectives of both community and department members, including the experiences of people of color):

    • Recruiting, Hiring, Training and Promoting

    • Services Provided and Needs Served

    • Staffing Levels and Organization Structure

    • Internal Investigations, Misconduct and Discipline

    • Accountability and Oversight

    • Policies, Procedures, and Practices

    • Collective Bargaining and Contracts

    • Culture

    • Communications and Community Engagement

  • Recommendations (informed by best practices)

    • Strategic Direction for the next five years

    • Specific Recommendations on:

      • Recruiting, Hiring, Training and Promoting

      • Services Provided and Needs Served

      • Staffing Levels and Organization Structure

      • Accountability and Oversight

        I know this is a critically important department and the scope of Task Force’s work is large. I have set aside $200,000 in funding for a facilitator or a consultant to help the Task Force. Please keep in mind that it will take some time to find and procure this advisor (or advisors).

        In the meantime, I have asked staff from our Police, Law, Human Resources and Health and Human Services Department to be available to the Task Force. Dana Hanson, the Director of Community Engagement and Inclusion from my office, will also serve as a liaison and our Chief Operating Officer, Jonathan Yeo, will also be part of the team. We will provide the Task Force whatever information it needs, within the constraints of the law. 

Jenn Pucci, Assistant City Solicitor

Jonathan Yeo, Chief Operating Officer

Dana Hanson, Director of Engagement and Inclusion

Mary O'Neill, Human Resources Business Partner

Deborah Youngblood, Commissioner of Health and Human Services

Police Representative being decided

*Kathy Lopes, Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at NPS

*Jini Fairley, ADA Coordinator

* Will attend occasionally

In anticipation of some of the questions the Task Force might have, I have pulled together background information on:

  • Packet #1, Summary of Documents 

  • Newton Police Reform Task Force:  Goals, Responsibilities, Timeline                 

  • NPD Organizational Chart                                                                    

  • Task Force Member Biographies                                                                       

  • NPD Sworn Officer Staffing Analysis                                                

  • NPD Budget: FY2020                                                                                                               

  • NPD Budget: FY2021                                                                                                                               

  • NPD Accreditation Reports by Bureau                                                            

  • NPD Statistics:                                                                                                                                                          

    • NPS Statistics and Data Tables: 2017 – 2019                                 

    • Historical Crime Data: 2017                                                                                 

    • Historical Crime Data: 2018                                                                 

    • Historical Crime Data: 2019                                                                                 

    • Field Interrogations and Observations: 2015 – May 2020                        

  • NPD Collective Bargaining Agreements                                                                         

  • NPD Accreditation Final Report: January 2017                                                             

  • NPD Use of Force General Order through 11/30/2016                              

  • NPD Use of Force General Order through 6/15/2020                

  • NPD Annual Internal Affairs Analysis: January 2020                                

  • NPD Use of Force Report: 2017 - 2019                                                                            

  • NPD Citations by Race: 2016 – May 2020                                                                       

  • NPD Police Officer Recruit Orientation                                                                           

  • NPD Hiring Process Overview                                                                                                            

  • Commonwealth of MA Initial-Hire Medical Standards                                             

  • MA Recruit Officer Course Orientation                                                                           

  • Special Operations and Training Bureau Inservice Topics                                        

  • Incident 20024459 Materials (Tim Duncan)  

  • Reforms to Civil Service, Collective Bargaining, and Joint Labor Management Committee from the MMA 7/8/2020

This background information is available on the City of Newton website within the Mayor’s Office at a Tab marked “Newton Police Reform Task Force.”

I am asking the Task Force to report on its progress to me approximately every six weeks which I will share with the community. I am also asking that the Task Force finish your work and provide me your recommendations by February 1, 2021. This will allow me, in turn, to weigh your recommendations and potentially include changes in the budget for FY2022.

I am pleased that Sonja Spears is serving as Chair. Sonja brings to this role her experience as an attorney and former elected judge in the First City Court of New Orleans as well as her insights from her current role as the Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer at the Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program (BHCHP).  Prior to joining BHCHP, she was a Civil Rights Investigator in the Office of Diversity and Civil Rights at the MBTA. In this role, she evaluated and investigated system-wide civil rights complaints.  In addition, she has more than fifteen years’ experience as an educator and is an instructor at Tufts University and adjunct professor at Harvard Law School.  At Tufts, she has developed a course entitled Accused: The Gap Between Law and Justice which in part gives an account of her personal experience as a judge when she experienced the abuses of the legal system. Over the course of her career, she has developed a deep expertise in negotiation, mediation and facilitation.  She serves on several boards, including as Trustee Board Chair at Myrtle Baptist Church.  

The membership of the Newton Police Reform Task Force includes:

  •     Sonja Spears, Chair

  • Derege Demissie

  • Jadeque Douglas

  • Malick Ghachem

  • Brian Henderson

  • Bill Hoch

  • Randy Johnson

  • Hattie Kerwin Derrick

  • Josh Levy

  • Rob Lowe

  • Alison Tarmy

  • Achille Vann Ricca

Short biographies of the members are included in the Background Information.

Finally, I know how important the input of residents, businesspeople and others will be to the thinking of the Task Force. As a first step, I have set up an email address so that people can send along their ideas to the Task Force. The email address is: NPRTaskForce@newtonma.gov.


Ruthanne Fuller

Mayor, City of Newton


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