SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The Baker-Polito Administration is applauding a statewide public safety initiative this summer that reduced street violence and drug distribution in several cities, including Springfield and Holyoke.
Over the summer, troopers from the Massachusetts State Police worked alongside local police in five cities: Boston, Brockton, Lawrence, Holyoke and Springfield. The goal of the operations was to increase safety in the communities by focusing on suspects responsible for drug distribution, firearm violations, street violence and human trafficking.
“State and local law enforcement are instrumental in ensuring the safety and welfare of our communities, and it is crucial that public safety officials share a collaborative focus and approach in their continued efforts to reduce and prevent crime,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “I commend this state and local partnership and the collective work to ensure the safety of all Massachusetts residents.”
From July through September 2022, state and local police arrested 274 people and issued 51 criminal summonses. They also seized the following drugs:
- 71 illegally possessed firearms
- 41,365 grams of heroin and fentanyl
- 2,895 grams of cocaine and crack
- 3,996 grams of marijuana
The Holyoke Police Department reported a 15 percent increase in seizures of illegal firearms and a 23 percent decrease in opioid overdoses between July and September this year compared to the same time in 2021. Between July and October 2022, 70 people were arrested and 8 firearms along with nearly 3,000 grams of drugs were seized.
The Springfield Police Department reported a 6 percent decrease in aggravated assaults with firearms, 28 percent decrease in confirmed shots-fired calls, and a decrease in opioid overdoses between July and September of this year compared to the same time in 2021. Between July and October 2022, 52 arrests were made. In addition, 8 firearms and nearly 2,000 grams of drugs were seized.
“I want to thank Governor Baker, Lt. Governor Polito, Colonel Mason, Secretary Reidy, and all of our state and local partners for their leadership and continued dedicated efforts working together to enhance our local Springfield Police Department’s public safety initiatives,” said Mayor Domenic J. Sarno, City of Springfield. “Police Superintendent Cheryl Clapprood and I truly appreciate and support this state and local initiative. These collaborative efforts not only helped reduce crime but also greatly enhanced the quality of life for our residents and business community. Only by working together between all state and local agencies can we truly make a difference in our communities.”
“The brave and dedicated women and men in Blue are committed to any and all initiatives that focus on taking criminals off our streets. This state and local partnership supported and enhanced our SPD’s continued efforts in reducing and deterring crime and improving the quality of life for our residents and businesses,” said Superintendent Cheryl Clapprood, Springfield Police Department. “I want to acknowledge my leadership team and every one of my officers for their tireless efforts in serving and protecting our neighborhoods. Thanks to our joint efforts, we took numerous illegal guns, including many ghost guns, and drugs off our streets. It is partnerships like this, where everyone works together, that we can make real change.”
State Police have been collaborating with western Massachusetts police in Springfield, Chicopee, and Holyoke since the spring and summer of 2021. The success of that program is why they decided to extend the initiative to summer 2022 and include more cities in eastern Massachusetts. The initiative was supported by a $500,000 fund through the Edward J. Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program.
Funding for the program was also used by the State Police Gang Unit to further investigations along with the Homeland Security Investigations agents that involved trafficking of large amounts of narcotics into the United States from other countries. The investigations are still ongoing but police have already seized multiple kilograms of trafficked drugs that otherwise would have circulated into local communities.
“The results of this summer initiative were the culmination of sustained enforcement over several months undertaken side-by-side with our local police partners, and I am very grateful for those partnerships,” said Colonel Christopher Mason, Superintendent, Massachusetts State Police. “We identified and removed from the streets numerous impact players responsible for gun violence, drug dealing, and other types of crime that destroy neighborhoods. And by interdicting that criminal element, we prevented others from falling victim to the overdoses, shootings, human trafficking, and street crimes with which these defendants are alleged to have committed within our community.”
The Berkshire, Hampden and Northwestern District Attorney’s offices in the Commonwealth also received $100,000 each in JAG funding to address community-based criminal activity related to gang violence, illegal firearms and narcotics.