Springfield mayor declares racism a public health crisis, wants officers in Nathan Bill’s case resuspended

Hampden County

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno announced Tuesday steps to “address and better race relations” within the city.

Following my inter-department listening meetings with my black Cabinet/Department Heads, as well as prayer vigils, discussions with black community leadership, advocacy groups and residents, along with private discussions, has been very helpful in shaping my thoughts and direction on this issue.

Mayor Domenic Sarno

Mayor Sarno declared racism as a public health crisis within the city Tuesday. An office of Racial Equity will be created within the city’s Health and Human Services to work with the community and submit recommendations to the mayor’s administration.

Sarno also apologized on reinstating the five officers involved in the Nathan Bill’s incident due to a police shortage from the COVID-19 pandemic. He has asked Police Commissioner Cheryl Clapprood to resuspend the officers until their cases are complete.

I support the Mayor and have agreed to resuspend these five officers.  I believe bringing them back at the time was the right thing to do after I had suspended them for one year, as we were dealing with personnel shortages due to Covid-19.  I look forward to the day that these cases are finally adjudicated and the city, the police department and the individuals involved can finally go on with their lives.

Commissioner Cheryl Clapprood

Clapprood told 22News she worries misinformation about the on-going Nathan Bill’s case has the potential to incite unnecessary violence.

It was also announced that an ordinance will be submitted to the City Council to strengthen the Community Police Hearing Board (CPHB) by giving them subpoena powers when reviewing police discipline matters and decisions.

On Monday, the city of Springfield hosted an online roundtable discussion on race and policing in the city. The city held the discussion in hopes of coming up with an action plan to improve the police department’s and community’s relations.

However, some city leaders did not approve of the discussion.

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