SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Springfield City Councilors addressed the mayor’s newest recommendations to improve police accountability Thursday night.
Acting Police Commissioner Cheryl Clapprood and Mayor Domenic Sarno support an expansion of the Civilian Review Board and giving them subpoena power.
Mayor Sarno this month, announced a series of new initiatives created in collaboration with Commissioner Clapprood. They’re the result of the best practices recommendations from a Police Executive Research Forum.
The mayor wants to expand the Civilian Police Review Board to nine members and give them subpoena powers. But the mayor insists he would appoint a police commissioner, despite the city council approving a Board of Police Commissioners.
“It only gives subpoena power, it doesn’t really give them access to be able to make decisions,” said Councilor Adam Gomez. “Not saying that we don’t have faith in the acting commissioner now. She’s been a part of this administration in this city for over thirty years.”
In earlier action, the City Council approved going back to a police chief, with a civilian police commission being responsible for discipline. That was vetoed by the mayor, and the City Council overrode his veto.
The mayor and the city solicitor insist the ordinance is invalid, as it conflicts with the city’s charter.
“There’s a problem, and that’s trying to hold this amorphous group accountable, as opposed to a single individual with a contract,” said Ed Pikula, city solicitor.
Some City Councilors who had supported a Board of Police Commissioners said these initiatives could help end the gridlock.
The city solicitor wants the City Council’s approval in order for the current Police Hearing Board to gain subpoena power.