SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The Springfield City Council is standing by its proposed cuts to the city’s police department.
22News spoke with City Councilor Orlando Ramos Wednesday night, who chairs the public safety committee. He said he didn’t like the way the city attempted to fund a new multi-million-dollar police shooting range.
Ramos said, “This is no way is an anti-police vote.”
The Springfield City Council voted this week to cut $200,000 from the police department’s overtime budget. Plus, another $800,000 from the city’s facilities budget.
Ramos said the Council found out the city was going to use that $800,000 from the facilities budget toward a new $16-million shooting range for the city’s police department.
City Councilor Ramos: Typically, with these types of requests they’re brought forward at a regular City Council meeting and they’re brought forward as a financial order.
Reporter: Does the Council feel that the mayor’s office was trying to pull fast one?
City Councilor Ramos: I can’t speak for everyone else, but I did mention at yesterday’s hearing that I felt that that was the case.
Ramos admitted there’s no guarantee that Mayor Domenic Sarno won’t reallocate funding to ensure money goes to the proposed shooting range.
T.J. Plante, who heads up the city’s Administration and Finance Division said the city is exploring its options and will work with the Council in an effort to show the benefits of building such a facility.
Ramos said given the Black Lives Matter protests, now simply isn’t the time. He added, “We have to be cognizant of the fact that there are a lot of people in our community that are demanding more accountability from our police officers.”
22News did invite the mayor on for comment, but we were unable to connect due scheduling conflicts.
In response to to $200,000 proposed to be cut from police budget, Commissioner Cheryl Clapprood said, “Patrolling our neighborhoods and responding to 9-1-1 calls is our top priority. That will continue uninterrupted. Unfortunately, the budget cut may lead to the consolidation of our popular C3 Units or other quality of life units like the ordinance flex squad and the HUB and COR Initiative.”
So, what happens next?
The Council’s budget proposal heads to the mayor’s office.