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Springfield Reinstates Officers In Pandemic, Adding 'A Little Bit More Gasoline To The Fire'

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Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno and Police Commissioner Cheryl Clapprood in a file photo.

This week, the Springfield Police Department reinstated five officers who face perjury charges for allegedly trying to cover up a 2015 fight outside a city bar involving off-duty officers. 

Police Commissioner Chery Clapprood said the officers are needed now because of staffing shortages caused by COVID-19.

City Council President Justin Hurst said he was under the impression the department was bringing in Massachusetts state troopers and help from the National Guard. 

"The idea that these five officers were absolutely necessary in order to maintain public safety – in my opinion – is absurd," Hurst said.

Mayor Domenic Sarno said he supports the reinstatement, saying "all hands on deck" are needed to keep Springfield safe.

Panelist Susan Bigelow said she understands why the department might want to bring in officers they already know.

"But these officers... it does send the wrong message that in times of crisis, they'll bring back anybody," Bigelow said. "They'll bring back people who have violated the public trust. It's not a good look. It's not a good message. And it's not a good precedent, either."

Managing the police department has been a source of contention between the city council and Sarno, who supports the reinstatement of the officers. 

Panelist Mike Dobbs said he thinks the reinstatement will make things worse on that front.

"I did contact the Springfield police for the story that I'm doing on this," Dobbs said. "And I asked them specifically what kind of duty these officers were going to have. I mean, considering the fact that their legal status hasn't been finally decided in this particular case, I thought, well, maybe they'd be used inside."

Dobbs said he learned there are apparently "no restrictions" on how the officers will be used.

"I think that this sends sort of an interesting message, especially to the city's minority population, about the Springfield police, and how they are being managed," he said. "I think this is just going to add a little bit more gasoline to the fire."

Also this week, a group of several Northeast governors pledged to work together to help re-open the economy once the COVID-19 pandemic subsides. Included are Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island. 

And on the topic of governors: a recent Hartford Courant poll said Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont had a 65% approval rating for his handling of the pandemic. 

We also took a look at what our guests have been writing about. Bigelow wrote, "the era of small government is over" amid the pandemic. And Dobbs took a look at why recreational marijuana stores in Massachusetts are still closed, but liquor stores remain open.

Guests:

Listen to The Short List Podcast.

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