SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The Springfield Police Department said it’s continuing to make significant progress on the Department of Justice recommendations proposed back in July.
The City of Springfield invited the DOJ to look into the patterns and practices of its Narcotics Unit from 2013-2018. Following an investigation, the DOJ announced in July of last year that it has found reasonable cause to believe the Narcotics Bureau engaged in the use of excessive force.
Investigation into Springfield Police Department’s Narcotics Unit finds ‘pattern of excessive force’
According to Springfield Police Commissioner Cheryl Clapprood, the use of body-worn cameras and disciplinary action has helped hold officers accountable for their actions.
“I can speak to my two years as Commissioner of the Springfield Police Department,” said Springfield Police Commissioner Cheryl Clapprood. “Less than two-tenths of one percent of arrests resulted in a citizen’s complaint for excessive force and there was not a single complaint against a Narcotics Detective. Body-Worn Cameras have been a huge help and in one instance while reviewing footage we saw something that didn’t seem quite right, that officer now faces criminal charges. While we continue to steadfastly work on these DOJ recommendations, I continue to discipline officers. I believe that has helped change some behaviors as well. I can promise you work is being done and I am holding people accountable.”
Mayor Domenic Sarno said he, along with City Solicitor Ed Pikula, Police Commissioner Clapprood, Judge Roderick Ireland, continue to work very closely and diligently with the Department of Justice through weekly meeting sessions.
“Our goals are the same, to continue to implement police/community relations, internal and external checks and balances initiatives – a number that Commissioner Clapprood has already done, and meaningful and thought processed police reform,” Sarno stated. “I remain hopeful that we will attain this mutual goal/agreement in the very near future for the betterment of our community and our Police Department.”
Springfield Police Department Spokesman Ryan Walsh told 22News, “There is a lot of progress being made on all fronts of all the recommendations that were proposed back in July, and those conversations continue with the law department weekly and the police department bi-weekly.”
Walsh said that complaints against Springfield officers for use of excessive force has dropped dramatically, with a total of 9 citizen complaints for use of force in 2020 compared to 24 in 2017.
He added that any citizen can make a ‘use of force’ complaint and the Internal Investigations Unit will review it.