City councilors pleased with Springfield Police’s proposed use of force policy

The proposal is a requirement of their consent decree agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice.
Published: Oct. 19, 2022 at 6:48 PM EDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB/WSHM) - The Springfield Police Department released their proposed use of force policy changes Tuesday afternoon, and some Springfield city councilors are calling it a step in the right direction.

The proposal is a requirement of their consent decree agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice.

One Springfield city councilor told Western Mass News that he is pleased with the proposed policy, and even more pleased that the police department is considering the public’s opinion before their final submission.

The Springfield Police Department was placed under a consent decree by the Department of Justice a few months ago. This came after an investigation into the use of force by the Springfield Police Department Narcotics Unit.

As part of that agreement, the department had to write up a new use of force policy. They released a first draft on Tuesday.

“Based on the cursory review that I did, I actually was pleased by the policy,” Springfield City Councilor Justin Hurst told us.

He has been fighting for changes in the police department, and told us that he is pleased with the document. Some specific changes stuck out to him, like the detailed de-escalation requirements of officers and the duty to intervene for officers.

“When they see other officers using excessive force, we know that, when I read the DOJ report, there were a number of incidents where excessive force was used and you had officers that did not intervene,” Councilor Hurst said.

The document also detailed the prohibition of chokeholds and use of force as a punitive measure.

“What we don’t want to see happen is, once they’re restrained, is for folks to be using force that is unnecessary,” Councilor Hurst added.

However, he was most pleased to see that the department is asking for the public’s input. U.S. Attorney Rachel Rollins sent Western Mass News a statement that reads in part, quote:

“The parties (the Springfield Police Department, the US Attorney’s Office, and the monitoring team) all weighed in on the revised policy. The policy is not finalized and has not been presented to the court for approval until the public has a chance to comment.”

“I think that’s a step in the right direction,” Councilor Hurst told us. “That was the first thing I noticed, which I thought was instrumental and certainly something different than I’ve seen in the past.”

The document is not officially due to the DOJ until October 29. On their website, where you can find the full policy, you can also provide your comment on it, as well.

You may also attend a public status conference on October 25 at 3:30 p.m. or a virtual community meeting hosted by the U.S. Attorney on October 27 at 6 p.m.