Springfield community centers to issue free passes to help combat gun violence

There’s new action in Springfield to combat gun violence and keep young people off the streets.
Published: Sep. 25, 2023 at 3:05 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - There’s new action in Springfield to combat gun violence and keep young people off the streets. The city announced a new program on Monday to keep Springfield young people off city streets and out of trouble.

“Somebody reaches out and says ‘I’m having a hell of a time with my kid, my grandson my granddaughter. Where can they go?’ This pass can go to all of these places,” said Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno.

These are universal city passes. In the coming weeks, Springfield police officers will be handing them out to families and kids. With the pass, city youth have free access for one week to ten community centers and their programs and resources like mental health counseling and more. They are welcome to continue to come after the week wraps up. It is a product of recent community roundtable meetings with a focus on preventing further gun violence. As the city’s police department continues to combat what’s referred to as a cycle of violence, Springfield Police Superintendent Cheryl Clapprood told us that it a step in the right direction and explained that these programs can be a positive escape for kids looking for a break.

“A lot of the calls we go to are non-crime calls. We go to many domestics where it’s just a verbal or one half is left and the kids are there and they’re nervous, they’re upset. We go to runway calls. This morning, there was a call for a 13-year-old. She didn’t want to go to school. There may be many reasons why she doesn’t want to go to school. Maybe she’s being bullied, intimidated,” Clapprood explained.

With officers volunteering and coaching sports in many programs, she told Western Mass News that they develop trust-filled relationships.

“Kids don’t look at you like just a cop. They look at you as someone who’s their coach. ‘Tell me what to do here, coach. Help me up, get me off the ice,’ so they depend on you,” Clapprood said.

With that trust comes the chance for an officer to guide someone in a better direction and possibly preventing tragedies before they develop.

“Are they being bullied in school? Does dad have a gun he doesn’t really put away securely all the time? Is there a relative in the home with a drug addiction problem that gets angry sometimes? Those are what really help us to know beforehand and use these red flag laws. We can go in and scoop the guns, we can hold the guns, we can take away the LTC, so that tragedies like this don’t happen,” Clapprood noted

A number of passes will also be available at gathering places like churches, libraries, and hair salons.