Mayor Domenic J. Sarno announced today that the City of Springfield and the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) have reached a settlement agreement to enhance and improve policing practices within the Springfield Police Department (SPD).
Mayor Sarno states, “I would like to thank my internal team led by retired City Solicitor Ed Pikula, Police Superintendent Cheryl Clapprood, new City Solicitor Judge John Payne, Massachusetts U.S. Attorney Rachael Rollins and her DOJ team.”
The settlement agreement comes after a series of thorough and comprehensive negotiations and meetings that began in 2018 when the DOJ initiated an investigation into the Springfield Police Department (SPD) Narcotics Bureau (which has since been disbanded and revamped to the Fire Arms Investigation Unit) practices and unreasonable use of force from 2013-2018. Throughout this investigation, the City of Springfield and the Police Department fully cooperated with the DOJ, providing access and documentations requested.
Mayor Sarno continues, “Our brave and dedicated men and women in blue do a tremendous job day in and day out. Policing is a dangerous but still a very honorable profession and everyone knows that throughout my career I have been one of SPD’s biggest supporters in good times and bad. However, Police Superintendent Cheryl Clapprood and I found these issues and deficiencies concerning and we cooperated fully with the DOJ in their investigation. We acknowledge that past misconduct should not have occurred and it is our goal that it does not happen in the future. Simply put, it’s a balance between public safety and cop accountability. Working together with the DOJ and our internal city team, including former Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Roderick L. Ireland, the City is striving to have the best Police Department possible. Additionally, we were quick to move to correct and enhance our policing practices once these issues were found. Since that time, under Superintendent Clapprood’s leadership, our SPD have implemented numerous reforms and initiatives aimed and focused on improving and enhancing our policing practices, training, and document and record tracking to increase accountability and transparency.”
Overall, accountability has greatly increased with the implementation of body worn cameras. SPD is the largest department in the Commonwealth that has implemented a body worn camera program for all uniform and plainclothes officers. To assist with managing this new technology, the City has created a unit to manage the body worn camera footage and has hire a dedicated attorney. Additionally, in the two years since Cheryl Clapprood became Police Superintendent, the former Narcotics Unit, now the Firearms Investigation Unit, has received zero (0) excessive force complaints, a period that covers 2019 to March 2022.
“This has been a long and extensive process but in the end it is a well negotiated agreement between the City of Springfield and the DOJ,” Mayor Sarno said. “I want to thank everyone involved for their continued efforts working around the clock in continuing to enhance our city and improve our policing practices for the betterment of our residents and business community. Much of these agreed measures put forth in this agreement are already in place or are in the process of be implemented under the leadership of Police Superintendent Cheryl Clapprood and her leadership team. Those items not already being addressed will be reviewed and the process to implement them will be forth coming under the settlement agreement.”