The city of Springfield invited the Department of Justice to look into the patterns and practices of its Narcotics Unit from 2013-2018, cooperating throughout and providing hundreds of thousands of pages of documentation. The DOJ found certain areas that needed improvement from that time period.
Cheryl Clapprood was named acting Police Commissioner in February 2019 and Mayor Domenic J. Sarno appointed her to the permanent position in September 2019. In that time the amount of citizen’s complaints against officers for use of force have dropped dramatically, with a total of 9 citizen complaints for use of force in 2020 compared to 24 in 2017.
“I can speak to my two years as Commissioner of the Springfield Police Department. Less than two-tenths of one percent of arrests resulted in a citizen’s complaint for excessive force and there was not a single complaint against a Narcotics Detective. Body-Worn Cameras have been a huge help and in one instance while reviewing footage we saw something that didn’t seem quite right, that officer now faces criminal charges. While we continue to steadfastly work on these DOJ recommendations, I continue to discipline officers. I believe that has helped change some behaviors as well. I can promise you work is being done and I am holding people accountable,” said Springfield Police Commissioner Cheryl Clapprood.
Mayor Domenic J. Sarno states, “City Solicitor Ed Pikula, Police Commissioner Cheryl Clapprood, Judge Roderick Ireland and I continue to work very closely and diligently with the Department of Justice through weekly meeting sessions. Our goals are the same, to continue to implement police/community relations, internal and external checks and balances initiatives – a number that Commissioner Clapprood has already done, and meaningful and thought processed police reform. I remain hopeful that we will attain this mutual goal/agreement in the very near future for the betterment of our community and our Police Department.”
Springfield City Solicitor Edward Pikula stated, “The City fully cooperated in all phases of the investigation and we are continuing to do so during the ongoing negotiations to ensure the Police Department has the policies and training officers need to police safely and to help foster community confidence.”
Any citizen can make a complaint for any reason and our Internal Investigations Unit reviews each and every one. A use of force complaint can entail anything from the use of police issued equipment to being physical with a subject. In 2020 there were 3251 individuals arrested and officers responded to more than 266,000 calls for service with nine citizen complaints regarding use of force.