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Getting Answers: Springfield Police reform updates

Getting Answers: Springfield Police reform updates
Published: Apr. 30, 2022 at 10:49 PM EDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB/WSHM) -On Saturday, an annual award ceremony was held for Springfield’s Mason Square C3 policing unit with U.S. Attorney of Massachusetts, Rachel Rollins, served as the keynote speaker. She honored the groups accomplishments in the Springfield Police Department. This comes following the consent decree that the Department of Justice recently filed, aimed at reforming the Springfield Police Department.

Attorney Rollins was joined by Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno and Police Superintendent Cheryl Clapprood in their first joint event together, since working together to reform policing in the City. Western Mass News checked in with one City Councilor to see what he hopes to see change in the Springfield Police Department as the consent decree waits approval.

“We’ve already started taking some of those necessary steps even before the consent decree we voted as a city council to work with the mayor to bring body cameras, we had addressed some past scandals and put some things in place in the day-to-day operations in the police department,” said Springfield City Councilor Melvin Edwards.

Springfield City Councilor Melvin Edwards told Western Mass News he is starting to see improvements in the Springfield Police Department. This comes following the U.S. Department of Justice’s announcement that they entered into an agreement with the Springfield Police Department, after an ongoing investigation into patterns of misconduct on the force, a consent decree was filed, aimed at better oversight of the department.

“Regardless of how we got here, the most important thing is where we go moving forward,” said Edwards.

The consent decree has not yet been approved by a judge, but it would require the Springfield Police Department to make changes which will be monitored by the Department of Justice. Edwards told us he has more confidence in the Springfield Police Department as changes are being made on the federal level.

“Regardless of the reforms that are being forced upon the Springfield Police Department and rightfully so there are going to be reforms and better standards in the operation of police across the whole Commonwealth,” said Edwards.

Part of reforming the Springfield Police Department includes the city’s new five-member Police Commission, shifting the former police commissioner Cheryl Clapprood to a new title of Police Superintendent. She told us the transition has been going well.

“They have the discipline part of it and I can continue the day to day police administration, promotions and hiring so we’re busy...We have a lot of work to do but we had a lot of work to do with the reform bill itself anyway, so we’re on the right track. I think if you look at recent stats, you know I can’t change history of the department, but I can sure change the way we’ve been going,” said Clapprood.

City Councilor Edwards also told Western Mass News that there is still more work to be done within the Springfield Police Department, which he said starts with hiring the right people that will serve and protect the community.