Investigation underway into former Springfield Police narcotics - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Investigation underway into former Springfield Police narcotics unit

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(Western Mass News photo) (Western Mass News photo)

An investigation is underway into the Springfield Police Department's former narcotics unit.

That announcement came Friday from Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno's office following a meeting attended by:

  • Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno
  • Springfield Police Commissioner John Barbieri
  • Members of the Springfield Police command staff
  • Springfield City Solicitor Ed Pikula
  • Chief of Staff Denise Jordan
  • U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts Andrew Lelling
  • Steven Rosenbaum, chief of the Special Litigation Section of the Civil Rights division for the Dept. of Justice

According to Sarno's office, the meeting was held to discuss the opening on an independent federal investigation, which will review practices to determine if persistent patterns exist within the unit.

"We seek to work with the DOJ, with input from community stakeholders, to effectively remedy any unlawful practices that may be found. It is my hope that the City will be able to institutionalize and adopt any reforms the experts can offer us as we move the City forward. I have asked my Chief of Staff, Denise Jordan to act as a liaison to all community stakeholders to provide input for the investigation," Sarno explained in a statement.

The investigation is a civil investigation, prompted by public reports, that will examine whether the former narcotic's unit engaged in a patter or practice of using excessive force in violation of the Constitution.

All pattern and practice investigations involve interviewing police and local officials, obtaining information from other criminal justice stakeholders, observing officer activities, and reviewing documents and incidents relevant to the investigation.  It also gathers information directly from community members.

"The reform processes that have been initiated since I became Commissioner will be supported by this investigation by enabling our Police Department to identify and remedy any problems. It can also help police officers, both by ensuring that they have the policies and training they need to police safely and by helping to foster the community confidence they rely on in performing their duties," Barbieri said in a statement.

The U.S. Attorney's office indicated to city officials that they would work in a cooperative and collaborative approach and won't hinder the city's public safety and proactive policing initiatives.

""The City will cooperate in all phases of the investigation to make sure the process is as transparent as possible, without compromising the need to maintain confidential information," Pikula added in a statement.

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