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Still No Changes To Use-Of-Force Policy For Springfield Police

A 2020 Black Lives Matter rally in front of Nathan Bill's Bar and Restaurant in Springfield, Massachusetts.
Hoang 'Leon' Nguyen
The Republican / Masslive.com/photos
A Black Lives Matter rally in front of Nathan Bill's Bar and Restaurant in Springfield, Massachusetts.

Springfield's police commissioner, Cheryl Clapprood, has acknowledged no changes have been made to the department's use-of-force policy. This comes two months after the department said Clapprood accepted suggestions offered by the City Council.

After the killing of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis, Springfield city councilors in early June called for Springfield to explicitly ban chokeholds. They also wanted officers to attempt de-escalation before any use of force.

Clapprood told councilors Monday it would be "very foolish" to amend the policy now, and then again if a statewide police accountability bill becomes law.

“Instead of making the change now, making the change in two weeks, making the change in two months,” she told the council’s public safety committee.

This conversation has intensified following the release of a scathing federal report highlighting excessive and unreported force by Springfield officers.

City Solicitor Ed Pikula said the Department of Justice report includes “inconsistencies,” but said the administration is working on its response. He said the city could end up with a consent decree or federal monitor.

“It’s going to require a commitment of resources – both financially and time and personnel and changes in attitudes all around – and we’re committed to do that,” Pikula said.

But in the absence of a federal agreement or new state law, Council President Justin Hurst said it doesn't make sense to wait.

“I think we're making a critical mistake not getting this stuff in writing now, and then making amendments later,” he said.

The department said it has instituted one change requested by councilors: For the first time, Springfield residents can file complaints against officers by email

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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