Mayor Sarno states, “I want to thank Representative Bud Williams for organizing this important public safety meeting. The meeting was very productive as we continuing to work together with our public safety partners to address the wide variety of issues, from distracted drivers to speeding, that have caused this significant increase in vehicle related accidents not just in Springfield but across the Commonwealth. Thank you to Secretary Terrence ‘Terry’ Reidy, EOPSS Legislative Director Brian Merrick and State Police Colonel Chris Mason for taking the time to meet with us and discuss what measures we can collectively take to reduce these types of vehicle accidents. Currently, Commissioner Clapprood and SPD have implemented enhanced traffic patrols across the city and DPW is currently reviewing and designing enhancements at identified key areas on our public roadways that include increased signage, narrowing of the roadway and the installation of RRFB/HAWK system for pedestrian safety.”
State Representative Bud Williams stated, “The significant uptick in traffic related accidents, especially involving pedestrians is alarming not just in Springfield but across the Commonwealth. As the Massachusetts Highway Safety Division previously announced, there have been more fatal accidents on our public roads across the state this past year; the most since 2009. There needs to be a joint collective effort between the Commonwealth and our local municipalities and I am happy to coordinate this important public safety meeting with our local city leaders and key state stakeholders including EOPSS Secretary Terrence Reidy and State Police Colonel Chris Mason. I want to thank and acknowledge Mayor Sarno, Police Commissioner Clapprood and DPW Director Cignoli for their efforts working to address these issues locally. We will continue to meet and discuss all of our options moving forward to make our public roads safer for everyone. I will also confer with my colleagues in House of Representatives and the state Senate to see if additional traffic and public safety funding can be secured and designated directly to our local cities and towns.”
The Springfield Police Department and State Police continue to partner together to enhance traffic enforcement throughout the city, especially taking illegal recreational vehicles off of public roads and neighborhoods.
“Our SPD and State Police have a great working partnership to help keep our public roads safe. We continue to utilizing the State Police ‘eyes in the sky’ helicopter to help track down and take these illegal dirt bikes off our roads. Colonel Mason has indicated to me and Commissioner Clapprood that he intends to expand their air wing operations,” Mayor Sarno said. “In addition, under Commissioner Clapprood’s leadership, SPD has enhanced their traffic enforcement and visibility throughout our city. As a result, SPD has conducted numerous traffic stops and issued hundreds if not thousands of traffic citations for speeding and distracted driving and even making arrests and taking more illegal guns off our streets. However, we now need our courts to back us up and to not dismiss these traffic violations and felony charges.”
“Additionally, we will continue to work with Representative Williams and our state delegation on passing vital home rule legislation that state Representative Orlando Ramos filed that would give SPD the authority to seize and destroy these illegal dirt bikes so that they cannot terrorize our residents, business community and neighborhoods anymore. Springfield has also adopted a local ordinance that will make it harder for these illegal off-road vehicles to operate on our city streets by banning the sale of gas to dirt bike riders. I am also happy to report that after Representative Ramos and I met with the mayors and police department leadership from the cities of Holyoke and Chicopee in August 2021, we now have a stronger regional approach to addressing this issue. Both Holyoke and Chicopee are looking to pass their own local ordinance to ban the sale of gas to dirt bike riders and their local police departments continue to work with our SPD and the State Police to share information on these illegal dirt bikes as they travel in and out of our respective communities.” Mayor Sarno continued.
State Representative Williams added, “I will continue to work with my colleagues in the House, including Representative Ramos the lead sponsor of the home rule bill, to get this important legislation passed. The legislation is currently pending before the Joint Committee on the Judiciary.”
EOPSS Secretary Reidy and EOPSS Legislative Director Brian Merrick also expressed and thanked the Mayor for his continued support of Governor Baker’s dangerousness legislation that looks to focus on a plethora of public safety issues such as strengthening the consequences for those found in violation of their release on bail, creating new felony offense for a defendant that has cut off their court-ordered GPS device and the right for the prosecution to request a dangerousness hearing for certain criminal acts; just to name a few.
Mayor Sarno and State Representative Bud Williams will continue to push and advocate for effective public safety initiatives for the betterment of all our residents and business community. As a follow up to this discussion, Mayor Sarno and Representative Williams will schedule a meeting with local court officials to stress the importance that these public safety efforts and initiatives are supported by the court system. Mayor Sarno and Representative Williams will reach out to schedule a meeting with First Justice Judge Kevin Maltby and Clerk Magistrate John Gay.