Mayor Domenic J. Sarno and Police Commissioner Cheryl Clapprood today pledged to continue to cooperate with the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) to address police deficiencies cited in their report.
The DOJ has issued its investigative report determining that there is reasonable cause to believe that Springfield Police Department Narcotics Bureau officers have engaged in a pattern or practice of excessive force, which is directly attributable to systemic deficiencies in SPD’s policies, accountability systems, and training.
Earlier today, Mayor Sarno, Commissioner Clapprood and City Solicitor Attorney Ed Pikula held a press conference at the Police Department to respond to the DOJ report and support the collaborative efforts of working together to address and continue to improve the systems in place within the Springfield Police Department.
Mayor Sarno stated, “Police Officers have a very dangerous job but this is very disturbing and disappointing because the report identifies serious issues that must be addressed. No one is above the law, including police officers. Now that the investigation has concluded, it is my goal to continue to work cooperatively with the DOJ to remedy the deficiencies identified so that policing in Springfield can indeed be safer, lawful, and more effective.”
“The DOJ stated that they are encouraged by SPD’s cooperation and by its initial efforts to address reform. DOJ stated its hope that ‘SPD will take advantage of its new leadership (Commissioner Clapprood) and the retention of an outside consulting firm (Police Executive Research Forum) to resolve the issues’ identified. Together with Commissioner Clapprood, my administration will work to develop and implement sustainable reform measures outlined by the DOJ,” Mayor Sarno continued.
On April 13, 2018, the DOJ initiated an investigation of the SPD Narcotics Bureau and issued a report based on a comprehensive review of over 114,000 pages of incident reports, investigative reports, policies, training materials, and other internal documents; interviews with SPD officers and City officials; and interviews with community members.
The DOJ report stated appreciation for the “cooperation and professionalism that City officials, SPD command staff, and many hard-working SPD officers demonstrated throughout our investigation”. DOJ noted that SPD officers perform an immense service to the Springfield community that often places them in dangerous situations, and that Narcotics Bureau officers in particular are tasked with serving felony warrants and making arrests of individuals suspected of serious drug and weapons offenses. The report states: “We hope that everyone in Springfield—City officials, SPD officers, and residents alike—will view this report as an opportunity to positively address failures within the Narcotics Bureau and make policing in Springfield lawful, safer, and more effective”.
Commissioner Clapprood stated that she is “committed to addressing the deficiencies identified by DOJ with changes to the policy, training, and accountability systems within the Narcotics Bureau of SPD and to SPD as a whole through the adoption of remedies outlined in the report”.
1. Enhancing Use of Force Reporting and Review Procedures;
2. Adopting New Use-of-force Training;
3. Reviewing and Revising IIU Policies and Training; and
4. Increasing Accountability Mechanisms.
In addition, Commissioner Clapprood has ordered the Narcotics Unit to wear body worn cameras.
City Solicitor Ed Pikula stated that, “While the full range of necessary measures is beyond the limited scope of the DOJ investigative report, the Law Department will assist in the negotiation of a resolution with DOJ to ensure that the reforms initiated so far will continue to address systemic deficiencies in policies, accountability systems, and training identified in the report”.
Mayor Sarno added, “I have the full confidence in Police Commissioner Clapprood and her leadership team to continue to address and implement the changes needed and identified by the DOJ report. Even before the report came out, we had already identified areas of improvements and took action. We continue to work towards gaining state certification and accreditation – a process aimed at providing a thorough evaluation and ensuring standards and the implementation of our body worn camera system just to name a few.”