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Springfield Police Department accepting public feedback on its internal investigations policy

Springfield Police Department vehicle.
Elizabeth Román
Springfield Police Department vehicle.

The Springfield, Massachusetts, police department is taking public comment on its internal investigation policy as it continues to implement reforms outlined in an agreement with the federal government.

A 2020 report from the Department of Justice said the Springfield police improperly handled the investigation of officer misconduct and a consent decree with the department called for the city to make changes.

The report said the department lacked clear policies on how internal investigations should be conducted and pointed out that investigators did not have proper training. The report also found it was difficult for members of the public to file complaints against officers.

In recent years the Springfield Police Department has made complaint forms more widely available, including online.

A spokesperson for the department said some of the changes in the proposal follow a recent state policing reform law and also provide updates from items agreed upon in contract negotiations with the city's patrolman's union.

NEPM has filed a public records request with the city to obtain the former internal investigations policy to compare it with what is being proposed

The new policy calls for a detailed process that starts with a complaint from the public and could continue in some cases all the way to a discipline hearing before the Board of Police Commissioners.

Western New England University criminal justice professor Creaig Dunton said the proposal stacks up with what other departments do.

"It certainly looks like a step in the right direction," he said. "This is the sort of community policing oriented accountability that has been lacking frequently and recently with law enforcement."

The public can comment online, or at in-person meetings until Feb. 20. The next meeting will be held Tuesday, Feb. 14 from 7 to 8 p.m. at the Forest Park Civic Association at 52 Sumner Ave.

Updated: February 10, 2023 at 11:57 AM EST
This story has been updated to include additional reporting.
Adam joined NEPM as a freelance reporter and fill-in operations assistant during the summer of 2011. For more than 15 years, Adam has had a number stops throughout his broadcast career, including as a news reporter and anchor, sports host and play-by-play announcer as well as a producer and technician.
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