SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – A member of the Springfield Police Department has been assigned to the FBI’s Western Massachusetts Task Force to help combat gun violence.
Springfield Police Department Commissioner said on Thursday that she and Mayor Domenic Sarno met with U.S. Attorney Andrew E. Lelling and the Special Agent in charge of the FBI Boston Division, Joseph Bonavolonta, in the city on Tuesday to discuss and agree on the officer’s new assignment which will begin Monday, November 16, 2020.
The FBI and Commissioner Clapprood agreed that assigning a Springfield Police officer to their Task Force will improve intelligence sharing between the two agencies. The goal is to crack down on illegal gun crimes and gun violence in the Springfield area.
“Our officers have done an incredible job taking illegally possessed firearms off the street undeniably saving lives, but by sharing intelligence and working with the FBI again we feel we can do an even better job of keeping our residents safe and hopefully get some stronger sentences for gun crimes,” Commissioner Clapprood stated in a news release sent by department spokesman Ryan Walsh.
Mayor Domenic J. Sarno added, “I deeply appreciate U.S. Attorney Andrew E. Lelling and Special Agent in Charge of FBI Boston Division Joseph R. Bonavolonta reaching out to myself and Commissioner Clapprood and coming to City Hall to expand and continue our partnership on ridding our streets and neighborhoods of these repeat violent criminal offenders. I am hopeful that with federal sentences hanging over their heads, these repeat violent criminal offenders will be put away for a long time.”
Special Agent in charge Bonavolonta said the Boston Division welcomes the partnership to help fight the increase in violence, “While our respective agencies have different roles and responsibilities, fighting violent crime is a duty we all share. It’s one team, and one fight. In today’s world, the threats we face are too diverse, too dangerous, and too all-encompassing for any of us to tackle alone. We want violent offenders to know that our task force will leverage the full force of the federal justice system to hold them accountable.”
U.S. Attorney Lelling added, “We are at a crucial juncture in combatting violent crime in Massachusetts’ cities, including Springfield. Cooperation among law enforcement agencies is more important than ever. I thank the Springfield Police Department for rejoining the FBI’s Western Massachusetts Gang Task Force – an investigative team that is pivotal to stemming the flow of crime in Western Massachusetts.”
The Springfield Police Department said it has seized more than 160 illegally possessed firearms this year alone, but along with the national trend, have seen an uptick in shootings and gun violence.
The department has had an officer assigned to the FBI Task Force, but due to a variety of reasons, specifically man-power issues, no one has been assigned to the Task Force since early 2020, Walsh explained.