Springfield Police released from 1970′s consent decree on diversity hiring

File photo of Springfield Police cruiser
File photo of Springfield Police cruiser(Western Mass News)
Published: Jul. 25, 2022 at 9:11 PM EDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB/WSHM) - The Springfield Police Department has been removed from a 1970′s consent decree that required departments across the Bay State to follow hiring ratios intended to prioritize Black and Hispanic candidates for police and fire departments.

According to Springfield Police, the Massachusetts’s Attorney General’s Office informed Springfield Police Superintendent Cheryl Clapprood Monday that a judge removed the Springfield Police Department from the 1972 Castro v. Beecher Federal Consent Decree on Friday, July 22nd.

Springfield Fire had already been removed from the decree on June 29th.

The decree, which took effect in 1975, instructed human resource department in more than 100 Massachusetts municipalities to follow hiring ratios that would prioritize Black and Hispanic police and fire candidates. It came as a result of multiple lawsuits which alleged discriminatory hiring practices in Boston in the early 1970′s.

The state’s Human Resources Division, which is represented by the Attorney General’s Office, requested that the federal court phase out the decree in the remaining cities and towns by the end of 2024.

Springfield Police said that of their 400 sworn patrol officers, 58% are Asian, Black, or Hispanic. They added that 54% of the department’s sworn staff members also fall under these demographics, however Castro v. Beecher only applied to patrol officers.

Monday, Superintendent Clapprood issued a statement, saying:

“Our police department for years has mirrored the demographics of our city. Thanks to our human resources manager, we have taken the right steps in hiring to lead us beyond parity. Each year it becomes more and more difficult to recruit police officers and the screening is more complex than ever with background checks, physical fitness tests and civil service exams. Being removed from this consent decree is not going to impact the inclusivity of our hiring process; the recent trends show that our diversity levels will only grow stronger.”

Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno also reacted to the news, saying:

“I am proud of my administration’s efforts to bring both our Springfield Fire and Police Departments to above parity within their respective ranks, including notable supervisory/leadership promotions too. Both our Springfield Fire Department (SFD) and Springfield Police Department (SPD) have risen above the state required parity and through my administrations contractually negotiated residency requirements. Fire Commissioner BJ Calvi, Police Superintendent Cheryl Clapprood and I am proud that both our SFD and SPD are reflective of our community and the residents and businesses in which they serve. Police Superintendent Cheryl Clapprood and I were happy to see that the court has recognized the tremendous strides the city of Springfield Police Department has made by achieving higher then what the parity goals stated. Additionally, both SFD and SPD have had diverse academy classes for firefighters and police officers respectively. The most recent Springfield Police academy graduated 31 new recruits where approximately two-thirds of the newly hired officers were Asian, Black and/or Hispanic, including nine female officers in the class, too.”

He went on to add:

“I am pleased that the court has now released both our Springfield Police Department and Springfield Fire Department from the 1970′s consent decree and look forward to continuing to move our City of Springfield forward for the betterment of all our residents and business community.”