SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – A breakthrough toward solving differences between Springfield Police and members of the clergy in minority neighborhoods began on Friday. The conversation with the clergy took Springfield Police Superintendent Cheryl Clapprood to the Christian Cathedral on Eastern Avenue, where she and her top staff met with Archbishop Timothy Paul and other leading clergymen.
The perceived problem has been a lack of respect by neighborhood young people and over-reaction by some police officers.
Archbishop Timothy Paul, a member of the Council of Churches of Greater Springfield told 22News, “Today we cut a string, because we didn’t know what to expect. But, we do know that having department heads sit down and start the dialogue and put action behind their dialogue is a good feeling for us.”
“Not only do the officers have to adjust the way they deal with people, because not everyone is a bad person, but it also has to come with, and I was happy to have him say; preach to the young people, responsibility and respect towards us,” said Springfield Police Superintendent Cheryl Clapprood.
And so with this meeting of the minds, this breakthrough came during a Faith and Blue event: A Conversation with the Clergy. This is a crucial step towards a community dialogue so to speak. Not the ultimate conclusion to long running sore points, but a positive start.
A beginning that police and church leaders can build on as they look toward mutual respect toward police, and the people in the neighborhoods they protect.