Mayor Domenic J. Sarno, Police Commissioner Cheryl Clapprood, City Solicitor Attorney Edward Pikula, Health and Human Services Commissioner Helen Caulton-Harris, and Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer Attorney Talia Gee, provided an update on the progress that has already been made in working with the Department of Justice (D.O.J.) in implementing initiatives and changes to our Springfield Police Department (SPD) to address D.O.J. concerns.
Mayor Sarno stated, “We acknowledge that past misconduct should not have occurred and it is our goal that it does not happen in the future. Working together with the D.O.J. and our internal city team, including Judge Roderick Ireland, the City is striving to have the best Police Department possible.”
The update on the continued changes and initiatives accomplished in conjunction with the D.O.J. include:
- Declared Racism as a Public Health Crisis and established the Office of Racial Equity under the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
- Budget changes to support newly created Office of Racial Equality within the City’s HHS Department including outreach for mental health, social work and street workers initiative
- Reallocated $125,000 from the SPD budget to the Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Racial Equity
- Matched another $125,000 for a total of $250,000 to our HHS Department for the Office of Racial Equity.
- Submitted an ordinance to the City Council which would codify the civilian Community Police Hearing Board (CPHB) allowing for subpoena powers
- Secured the services of former Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Roderick L. Ireland as a special advisor to the Mayor to help the City implement changes to policy, training, and accountability systems within the SPD
- Retained the services of an outside consulting firm; Police Executive Research Forum (P.E.R.F.) to help address and resolve issues of concern by the D.O.J.
- Body Worn Cameras – Training began on May 20, 2020 and the first phase of cameras were active, tested and in use as of May 26, 2020.
- 340 officers out of 500 are currently wearing body worn cameras
- In addition, the Narcotics Unit are wearing body worn cameras
- Continues to work towards state certification and accreditation
- The use of an Assessment Center for upcoming promotions to Captain
- Focus on leadership skills such as accountability and communication to complement education and testing
- Overhaul of Policies and Procedures within the SPD – bring up to standards as recommend by P.E.R.F.
- Providing for citizens to file misconduct complaints online
- Enhanced reviews of Use of Force Complaints by the Police Academy to provide more information to Internal Investigators
- Narcotics Division overhaul – new protocols and procedures
- Working to replace the Records management system with new technology
- Upgrade and improve how records are kept, stored and filed
- New injury reporting forms
- Revision of policies and practices to improve accountability
- Improved training (including mentoring of new recruits and mental health)
- Physic exams for potential cadets
- Focus on de-escalation training
- Continues to work with and expand homeless and street outreach efforts, especially during the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic, with Behavioral Health Network (BHN) and other mental health providers to assist SPD efforts
- Amendment to Collective Bargaining Agreement – Supervisors Union negotiations complete; IBPO pending in negotiations
- Recently negotiated contracts included the initiation of a body-worn camera pilot program, the adoption of a social media policy, a peer support program, as well as several provisions related to promotions, evaluations, and discipline.
As of last week, agreement reached with the Supervisor’s Union to extend the 90 day time period to complete Internal Investigations to 120 days. There is a current exemption in extenuating circumstances.
- Discussions with the Patrol Officers Union are ongoing.
- New Internal Investigation Unit (IIU) location to open in November 2020 at 299 Page Blvd.
- New location will be easier to access with safe off street parking and more private entrances to bring concerns to IIU
Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer Attorney Talia Gee:
- Community Police Hearing Board’s (CPHB) work continues to be done through the volunteer citizen board
- CPHB members are all city residents with diverse backgrounds and experience
- Shared the Public/Private Listening Forums conducted to date and the ongoing responses to questions and concerns brought up during these continued dialogues
- Announced the upcoming event planned to take place on Saturday, September 26, 2020 at 10:30 AM to listen to members of the community as to what reforms they want implemented with the CPHB and Judge Ireland
Health and Human Services Commissioner Helen Caulton-Harris:
- Shared the objectives and updates on the Office of Racial Equity
- Outreach efforts will be provided to our community, businesses and SPD under the direct supervision of HHS
- Mental health and cultural sensitivity training aspects
- Street workers to intervene work with gang intervention aspects
City Solicitor Edward Pikula
- Provided an update on legal aspects and our good work relationship with the D.O.J.