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Under Contract Deal, Springfield Officers Would Wear Body Cameras

In Gill, Massachusetts, Police Sgt. Christopher Redmond wore a body camera in this 2015 photo.
Patrick Johnson
The Republican / masslive.com/photos
In Gill, Massachusetts, Police Sgt. Christopher Redmond wore a body camera in this 2015 photo.

The police union in Springfield, Massachusetts, has agreed to have officers wear body cameras. The department-wide policy is part of new contracts announced Friday. 

Mayor Domenic Sarno called the agreement, which would award officers a gradual 13 percent pay increase over four years, "landmark."

"The body cameras are very very important, not only to the residents, but also to the safety of our police officers, too," Sarno told reporters.

Civil rights advocates and some politicians -- in Massachusetts and around the country -- have called for police to wear body cameras following high-profile police shootings of unarmed black men in recent years.

Officials said Springfield would be the largest city in Massachusetts with a wide-ranging body camera program. Boston has a pilot program for the cameras.

The Sarno administration said the police union will assist in interviewing vendors who bid to provide the body cameras.

"We want to be partners [with the union] in this process," said Bill Mahoney, the city's director of human resources and labor relations.

Under the deal, police would also carry the opioid overdose reversal drug Narcan, and newly hired officers would be required to live in the city for 10 years.

Officers would also be bound by a social media policy -- a discussion sparked by comments a Springfield officer posted to Facebook after the death of an anti-racism protester in Charlottesville.

Springfield officers' last contract expired in mid-2016, a gap mentioned at the press briefing by police union president Joseph Gentile.

"I'd like to thank the administration of the police department and the city who -- along with the members of [International Brotherhood of Police Officers] Local 364 -- showed incredible patience," Gentile said. "We are two years and a few days without a contract. But we wanted to get this done right. We didn't want to get it done quickly."

If approved by the City Council, contracts negotiated as part of this deal would last through June 2020.

Sam Hudzik has overseen local news coverage on New England Public Media since 2013. He manages a team of about a dozen full- and part-time reporters and hosts.
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