City of Somerville

Agenda Item
Kept in Committee
Jun 18, 2020 6:00 PM

That this Council draft an ordinance to establish a Use of Force Policy applicable to municipal law enforcement agencies.


Department:City CouncilSponsors:Ward Six City Councilor Lance L. Davis, Ward Five City Councilor Mark Niedergang, Ward Three City Councilor Ben Ewen-Campen, City Councilor at Large Kristen Strezo, City Councilor At Large Mary Jo Rossetti, City Councilor At Large Wilfred N. Mbah, Ward Seven City Councilor Katjana Ballantyne, Ward Four City Councilor Jesse Clingan, City Councilor At Large William A. White Jr., Ward One City Councilor Matthew McLaughlin

Official Text

That the City Council establish, as a municipal ordinance, a Use of Force Policy applicable to law enforcement agencies within the City of Somerville. Such Use of Force Policy shall take into account the existing Use of Force Policy established by the Somerville Police Department, as well as input from the community and models based on best practices. The Use of Force Policy shall include, without limitation, provisions addressing the following*:


1.              Requiring officers to report all uses of force including threatening another civilian with a firearm.

2.              Requiring officers to exhaust all other reasonable alternatives before resorting to using deadly force.

3.              Prohibition on chokeholds and strangleholds (including carotid restraints) or limiting these tactics to situations where deadly force is authorized.

4.              A Force Continuum or Matrix defining or limiting the types of force and/or weapons that can be used to respond to specific types of resistance.

5.              Requiring officers to de-escalate situations, where possible, before using force.

6.              Requiring officers to intervene to stop another officer from using excessive force.

7.              Prohibiting officers from shooting at people in moving vehicles unless the person poses a deadly threat by means other than the vehicle (for example, shooting at people from the vehicle).

8.              Requiring officers to give a verbal warning, when possible, before using deadly force


*Source: <>


To the extent that the establishment of such an ordinance is outside of the legal authority of the City Council, that the Council establish an ordinance requiring that the any law enforcement agency within the City of Somerville maintain a Use of Force Policy that includes, at a minimum, the eight policies listed above and that the Council take any other action consistent with the intent of this Order.

Meeting History

Jun 11, 2020 7:00 PM Video City Council Regular Meeting

Councilor Davis noted that data shows a Use of Force Policy reduces violence, and can improve the safety of the community.

AYES:Wilfred N. Mbah, Mary Jo Rossetti, Kristen Strezo, William A. White Jr., Matthew McLaughlin, Jefferson Thomas ("J.T.") Scott, Ben Ewen-Campen, Jesse Clingan, Mark Niedergang, Lance L. Davis, Katjana Ballantyne
Jun 18, 2020 6:00 PM Video Legislative Matters Committee Committee Meeting
draft Draft

Chair Davis introduced that this item, along with 210235 and 210291, were introduced as a response to the outpouring of support for changes in policing. These are not the only steps taken, but rather are those that fall under the purview of this Committee. The City Council is limited in its powers, articulated in the charter, to affect the budget. The City Council has the power to decrease or cut specific line items, it cannot add or shift funds.

See also: 210235.