"Diversity training has never worked in terms of weeding out the racist," said Talbert Swan, President of the Springfield NAACP chapter.

SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- There are new details in a story Western Mass News has been following this week.

Springfield Police Officer Hector Santiago, who has faced backlash after a social media post this week, retired effective immediately on Thursday.

Police officials told Western Mass News that Santiago had served with the department for 33 years and seven months. They would not say if it was related to the social media post, which included an edited photo depicting a statue of George Floyd aiming a gun at a statue of a pregnant woman.

Meanwhile, local city leaders are calling for changes within the department, not just sensitivity and cultural training.

Springfield NAACP President Talbert Swan is calling for the Springfield Police Department to do a more thorough job in recruiting officers.

"Diversity training has never worked in terms of weeding out the racist," said Talbert Swan, President of the Springfield NAACP chapter.

Springfield police door generic

(Western Mass News file photo) 

Meanwhile, many in the city are calling for more cultural and sensitivity training for officers. Swan told Western Mass News the department should instead focus its resources on better selecting its officers.

"Weeding out those that are psychologically unstable, those who hold racist viewpoints or biased viewpoints about other communities," said Swan.

Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno reallocated $250 thousand in 2020 to the health and human services department to create a racial equity program that would help train officers.

Hel told Western Mass News some of the programs have already started.

"I want even more expansive training going on and we are in talks with some facilitating groups also," Sarno said.

The Police Commissioner told Western Mass News that this week she has ordered staff to look into training to help address these issues.

This would be in addition to the programs overseen by the Health and Human Services department.

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(3) comments

Searcher

So he proliferates hatred and violence, violates the trust the people placed in him, increases mistrust of police, and gets off with an early retirement?

JCC

Yes officer should never have posted what he did, but the truth be told Floyd was a very evil human who was made into a hero, because a white police officer was held responsible for his death, death does not clear Floyd of the evils he committed

Searcher

A hero is someone who saves lives or property at great risk to themself. Floyd was no hero, I don't know of anyone who refers to Floyd as a hero. He became a symbol - very different than hero. I don't understand why you feel he was made into a hero. He became a symbol exposing police brutality. As for him being, ". . . a very evil human . . ." I think that's a judgement call and has nothing to do with his murder becoming symbolic.

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