SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – A Massachusetts organization representing senior citizens is calling for Springfield Police Commissioner Cheryl Clapprood to step down.
Members of the Massachusetts Senior Action Council (MSAC) held a virtual meeting on April 29th with Commissioner Clapprood to discuss police reform and share ideas presented by MSAC to help the police department in their efforts to improve policing practices in regard to racism and brutality. 22News contacted the MSAC Springfield Chapter representative, Tracey Carpenter.
She confirmed that seniors in the community were disappointed in the Commissioner’s response and believe that she should step down from her position.
22News went to Springfield Police Headquarters to speak with Commissioner Clapprood. She defended herself with this Zoom call, as well as all police officers. She says she continues to be an advocate for diversity and police reforms.
“The endemic problems including systemic racism plague the criminal justice system for far too long,” Clapprood said. “We are committed to being an active participant to not only represent a more fair criminal justice system but an open society.”
Clapprood added that she has always put the citizens of Springfield first, during her 42 year career on the force.
On Thursday, Springfield City Councilor Justin Hurst sent 22News a copy of the Commissioner’s response letter to MSAC. He also sent a statement that read in part:
“I Stand in Solidarity with our Seniors and will join them in calling for the immediate removal or resignation of Police Commissioner Cheryl Clapprood on the steps of City Hall on June 9th at 11:00 AM.”Justin Hurst, Springfield City Councilor
MSAC will be holding a rally for Springfield Police reform June 9 at 11am on the steps of Springfield City Hall to share their experiences in response to the Commissioner’s letter and calling on Mayor Domenic Sarno to remove the Commissioner from her position.
MSAC said the decision to hold a rally and to demand the resignation is because “Commissioner Clapprood has shown no interest in addressing valid and pressing concerns from the community, members of the Springfield City Council, and the U.S. Justice Department, about bias and a need for reform within the department.”
MSAC provided this statement:
Civil rights organizations calling for the removal of Springfield Police Commissioner Cheryl Clapprood will hold a public rally on Wednesday, June 9 to demand the commissioner step down immediately. The event, organized by Massachusetts Senior Action Council – a statewide senior-led advocacy group – comes in response to Clapprood’s unprofessional and patronizing response to concerns over charges of racial bias within the department.
In a letter to the Massachusetts Senior Action Council dated May 5, Commissioner Clapprood dismissed community concerns about how the department interacts with the public and treats people of color. Clapprood’s letter was written in response to Mass Senior Action’s request that she take action to investigate and reform the department. The group cited evidence of racial bias within the force, and specific incidents involving Springfield police that needed her urgent attention.
“Just within our membership, our children have been beaten, intimidated and harassed. Our grandchildren have been traumatized. And a senior in this group has been questioned for doing nothing more than pulling into their own driveway,” said Mattie Lacewell, Springfield Chapter President of Mass Senior Action. “She refuses to acknowledge the history of abuse and lacks the understanding of systemic racism, implicit bias, or white privilege. As Black and Brown elders in our communities, it is clear to us that Commissioner Clapprood is NOT the person to lead the department toward meaningful reform.”
The Springfield Police Department has a long history of allegations regarding the excessive use of force within the Springfield Police Department and concerns raised by groups and government entities ranging from the ACLU to the U.S. Department of Justice and members of the Springfield City Council.Massachusetts Senior Action Council