SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- A Springfield police officer's social media post is drawing outrage. City leaders are calling for a thorough investigation and stepped up diversity and sensitivity training.
The social media post shows a doctored image of George Floyd holding a gun to a pregnant woman. City leaders said they are disturbed to see this post shared by an officer and the mayor is calling for an investigation.
“As a police officer, he should know better,” said Springfield City Councilor Justin Hurst.
A Facebook post by Springfield Police Officer Hector Santiago is raising concerns about diversity training within the department. In the image, George Floyd’s statue, which is located in New Jersey, has been altered to show a gun placed in his hand pointed at a pregnant woman.
Hurst told Western Mass News that he received a screenshot of the post from a local resident who was disturbed by what they say.
“These things continuously seem to come out. I think we are appalled. There needs to be a level of training of sensitivity, cultural competency training, that is ongoing and purposeful,” Hurst added.
He said it's a continuous issue beginning at the top of the police force.
“It’s extremely problematic, it’s something that needs to be rooted out, and I think it’s something, quite frankly, that can’t be done with the current administration,” Hurst explained.
Hurst said Santiago used poor judgement following a year of unrest after Floyd’s death.
“You still have people that are mourning the death of George Floyd. You still have people that are not satisfied with the sentencing from Derek Chauvin and the idea you would post something like this is so appalling,” Hurst noted.
He is not calling on the officer to step down, but rather for the entire department to receive more sensitivity and cultural training.
“I think this particular officer has a lesson to learn. I think he needs to be educated and I think he needs to be trained better,” Hurst said.
Meantime, Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno shared this message with our newsroom:
“This is just plain unbelievable! After everything we are all doing in our Springfield, state, and our country to unite, respect and work together, this officer pulls this ‘B.S.’! This action ignites, divides and hurts our police-community relations and trust that we have continued to foster and build. As I have said before, these types of social media posts are unacceptable and insensitive. It is wrong and I have zero tolerance for this action. I have requested Police Commissioner Cheryl Clapprood and other appropriate departments to conduct an investigation into this matter ASAP.”
“I have also instructed the appropriate departments to expand for even more cultural sensitivity and diversity training…To not only get to the root causes of these actions, but just as important, a path forward on the ‘how’s, why’s, and what’s’, is needed to alleviate these types of actions. We have been in discussion with a facilitator group on this very issue.”
Springfield Police Commissioner Cheryl Clapprood told us the post was brought to the department’s attention and an investigation is underway. She went on to say, in part:
“This type of divisive behavior is inconsistent with the expectations of a Springfield police officer and only deepens the divide and sense of mistrust that pervades our society right now between police officers and the public we are sworn to serve and it is unacceptable. I have asked my staff to immediately look into trainings that can address some of these issues."
We attempted to contact the officer and the police union, but neither responded in time for broadcast. We will continue to monitor this closely and bring you the latest updates as they come in to our newsroom.