Springfield Mayor vetoes City Council vote on Board of Police Commissioners

Hampden County

Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno vetoed the City Council’s approval of a Board of Police Commissioners.

In 2005, Springfield switched from a Board of Police Commissioners to a single police commissioner – appointed by the mayor – that oversees the department’s operations. 

Currently, that person is Commissioner John Barbieri, who also has a citizen advisory board that offers him recommendations. Mayor Sarno told 22News this is working well, and that’s why he vetoed the City Council’s vote to reinstate the board on Wednesday. 

“If and when a situation arises in the police department, Commissioner Barbieri heeds their advice. This is the modern model. We don’t want to go backwards,” said Sarno. “With any organization, there’s checks and balance. But, you have to have the head of that organization, he or she, being able to call the day to day shots.”

The Board of Police Commissioners would be a  five-person committee that would take over the hiring, firing and discipline of the police department. 

City Councilor Justin Hurst voted in favor of a Police Board of Commissioners because of recent criticism regarding how the police department handles alleged police misconduct

“You have the federal government in here investigating the patterns and practices of our police department,” said Hurst. “Seems to me that we are not doing what we need to be doing locally. All they’re doing is what we should be doing at the local level. Our hope is that they (a board) would be able to hold the officers a bit more accountable than we’ve been able to do thus far.”

The City Council could override the veto with a two-thirds vote, which could happen at a meeting on December 17. 

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