Superior Court Judge orders Mayor Sarno to appoint civilian police commission

Hampden County

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – A major ruling for the city of Springfield.

A Hampden Superior Court Judge has ordered Mayor Domenic Sarno to appoint a civilian police commission.

The start of a police board would mean the elimination of a single police commissioner role and instead, the Springfield Police Department would have a police chief with a board that would have five civilian commissioners on it.

If implemented, those civilian Springfield residents, who are appointed by the mayor, have the authority to hire, fire, and discipline Springfield police officers.

The police chief would oversee the day to day operations of the department instead of a sole commissioner having all this authority like there currently is.

In a statement to 22News Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno said in part:

We have long expected that this matter would be finally decided by the Appellate Courts of Massachusetts. This is the first step and we look forward to the next step in that process.

Domenic J. Sarno, Mayor of Springfield

Springfield City Councilor and State Representative Orlando Ramos also responded to the court’s ruling. In a statement to 22News he said:

As Chairman of Public Safety, I am very happy with the court’s decision on this matter. I have voted in favor of the civilian Police Commission Ordinance several times; in fact, it was the very first piece of legislation I attached my name to when I was first elected to public office in 2013. I did so because I believe it is a system which would allow for more accountability; and it is in line with the reforms many of us have been fighting so vehemently to implement within the Springfield Police Department.

Orlando Ramos, State Rep. and Springfield City Councilor

This ruling comes after the Springfield City Council voted in favor of adopting a police commission twice, which Mayor Sarno vetoed in 2016 and 2018, but the council overrode both times.

The Springfield City Council then took it a step further and voted to authorize two attorney’s to file litigation so that the city had to enforce the council’s vote on establishing a civilian board of police commissioners.

The last time Springfield had a five member commission was in 2005.

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