Springfield Police Department updates its policy on use of force | News
SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) – The Springfield Police Department updated its policy on officers use of force.
The updates came before a City Council Public Safety Committee meeting Thursday evening.
The City Council and Police Commissioner Cheryl Clapprood had a positive discussion and found the police department is implementing all of the council’s recommendations.
The new revisions come exactly one year after a lengthy Department of Justice report alleged excessive force had been used in the Narcotics Bureau.
City Councilor Tracye Whitfield was part of that discussion. She said, “Probably 5 percent or less of the police department are the officers that do these crimes and the whole department takes the brunt of it.”
The meeting Thursday concluding the department implemented, or is on their way to fully implementing, all four recommendations made by the council last year.
One of those changes is a ban on chokeholds. The move is to try and reform the department after the DOJ report and several incidents alleging officer misconduct that gained national attention. Like the case involving former officer Gregg Bigda who was accused of beating three Latino juvenile suspects.
“I like the language, because to ban chokeholds outright would be to tell an officer in a life or death situation you cannot use it. I like the wording that says they’re prohibited unless lethal force is justified,” said Commissioner Clapprood.
In addition, she says the department has been putting in the work to make necessary changes. Saying, “I have terminated seven officers, I have suspended multiple officers for long periods of time to demand a good police department.”
Chair of the Public Safety Committee Orlando Ramos says he’s pleased to see the progress being made, but wishes for better communication between the council and the department.
“I’d like to know if there were any problem officers identified in this report that have been promoted since then,” said Ramos.
City Solicitor Ed Pikula responding, “I will try to answer that as best I can when I see your questions in writing.”
Meanwhile as gun violence rates climb in the city, the Narcotics Bureau is now tackling those crimes. Commissioner Clapprood says manpower is an issue, a recent policing exam had less than 300 participants which was down from the typical 1200.
“There’s definitely a crisis brewing here there are many more people leaving than people who want to be police officers,” said Commissioner Clapprood.
The ban on chokeholds was updated in January.