Getting Answers: Dissecting the potential changes to Springfield Police use of force policy

Getting Answers: Dissecting the potential changes to Springfield Police use of force policy
Published: Oct. 20, 2022 at 8:14 PM EDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB/WSHM) -Western Mass News is digging deeper into the proposed use of force policy put out by the Springfield Police Department, in compliance with the consent decree by the Department of Justice.

We wanted to know: How the new policy would affect officers on the streets?

Officers said they’ve been training these policies for years. This new proposal simply puts them in writing, which in turn, holds officers more accountable.

Banning chokeholds, explaining de-escalation, and requiring officers to intervene. These are all new updates listed in the use of force policy proposal by the Springfield Police Department. The department was required to rewrite the policy, as part of their consent decree agreement with the Department of Justice. This new policy will replace their current one.

“The big difference with this proposal are basically the implementations of several things we’ve already been training on, that have now just been transferred to paper,” said Officer Robert Carter, Springfield Police Academy instructor.

Carter explained how this policy would change things at the department. He said it really won’t change much, as far as training goes.

“De-escalation is now added to the policy which we’ve always trained on as long as I’ve been here…Duty to intervene is an added policy which is something we’ve always trained on,” he said.

All of this was never put in writing and now it is, which in turn means officers who violate the policies, can now be held accountable.

“If certain standards are violated, with it being on paper, there comes more accountability to the general public. For instance, this is a hypothetical, if an officer were to violate a standard in this policy, they could potentially be held criminally or civilly liable,” Carter explained.

The policy is really only a draft. The department is asking for the public’s help before their final submittal to the department of justice, with a deadline of October 29.

If you’d like to review the policy, you can find it on the Springfield Police Department’s website.

There you can also provide comment. Or you can attend a public status conference on October 25 at 3:30 p.m. or a virtual community meeting hosted by the us attorney on October 27 at 6:00 p.m.