Review of Springfield PD suggests keeping commissioner position, expanding CPHB

Hampden County

The Police Executive Research Forum has released a summary of its review of the Springfield Police Department. 

The PERF summary, released on Thursday, recommends the department maintain the police commissioner position, expand the Community Police Hearing Board with more oversight and improve the department’s Internal Investigation Unit.  

Springfield City Council calling for full audit of the police department

PERF, a nationally recognized expert in the field of police administration, also recommends the police department maintain its current leadership structure with a police commissioner. The review expressed that a five-member board of civilians, supported by City Council, could result in less accountability because “no one person could be held responsible for police operations.” 

Instead, the review suggests the CPHB be expanded to nine or 10 members, including at least three experienced law enforcement investigators and chaired by a retired judge or respected attorney with trial experience. The PERF also recommends the appointment of a Civilian Oversight Coordinator who will be responsible for the daily administration of the CPHB. 

Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno stated in a news release:

Acting Commissioner Clapprood informs me that she has already started implementing many of the recommendations. In addition, she has discussed with me and the law department changes to the existing board she believes will help strengthen its ability to assist by providing civilian oversight. I have asked the law department to work with the City Council to create a proposed Ordinance which adopts reforms for consideration by the City Council.

City Solicitor, Edward Pikula is hoping to have a proposed ordinance ready for the City Council at its April 15 meeting with the PERF recommendations. 

Although PERF agrees with the department’s current practice of holding off on administration investigation until criminal proceedings are completed, it recommends that in cases where the violation would likely lead to termination of an officer, the Springfield Police Department should consider immediate administration investigation. 

Acting Police Commissioner Cheryl Clapprood stated:

It is clear to me the best way to handle situations where criminal charges may be pending against police officers is with swift and decisive action at the time of an incident. This builds public trust and holds officers accountable for their actions.

PERF compared the Springfield Police Department’s practices to best practices on the national level and found it in compliance.  

In 2018, the police department selected PERF to complete its review, which cost $128,900. The final report is expected to be available within the next 30 days.

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