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PRESS RELEASE: Mayor Sarno Releases Preliminary CPHB Data for 2014/2015 Annual Report

PRESS RELEASE                                                      

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Monday, February 22, 2016

Contact: Marian Sullivan, Communications Director (413) 886-5166, msullivan@springfieldcityhall.com

Mayor Sarno Releases Preliminary CPHB Data for 2014/2015 Annual Report

and Initiates Changes in Method of Gathering and Reporting Activity

Springfield, MA- Mayor Domenic J. Sarno released preliminary data with regard to the work of the Community Police Hearing Board (“CPHB”) in advance of next month’s expected issuance of an Annual Report for 2014 and 2015. Mayor Sarno also initiated changes in the method for gathering and reporting of the statistics under the Executive Order creating the CPHB in order to improve public awareness

The CPHB was created by an Executive Order under Mayor Sarno’s direction and administration in February 2010. The CPHB was an evolution from the earlier Citizen Complaint Review Board (CCRB) established by former Mayor Charles Ryan in response to a study conducted by criminal justice experts Professor Jack McDevitt of Northeastern University and his Associate, Dr. Amy Farrell, following the filing of a complaint by the Pastor’s Council with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) and a settlement which resulted in the study.

“Since the creation of the Board, its civilian members have reviewed every single complaint made by any person whether or not that person is a victim of, or witness to, an incident and has sat as an independent and non-police mayoral agency empowered to receive and hear complaints, make findings and recommend action to the Police Commissioner on complaints against Springfield police officers which allege the use of excessive or unnecessary force, abuse of authority, discourtesy, or the use of offensive language. The statistics show CPHB is helping to ensure that all complaints are investigated thoroughly and fairly and has prohibited any complaint from being ‘swept under the rug'. In addition, the recommendations of the CPHB provide the Police Commissioner with a community perspective,” Mayor Sarno stated.

The data as to the total number of calls for service (CFS) and the total number of arrests for the past four years, not including juveniles is as follows:

 

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

CFS

183,839

173,463

176,897

186,220

141,521

Arrests

5,627

4,432

3,952

4,196

4,205

 

Based on this data, Mayor Sarno stated: “As officers increasingly confront violence and step up efforts to apprehend suspects in the community, the chance of alleged unjustified force or other misconduct increases. Without a transparent accountability model in place to help ensure that all complaints are investigated thoroughly and fairly, the Department risks losing legitimacy in the community, particularly in high crime neighborhoods where trust and confidence are most critical to effective policing.”

 

The preliminary data provided to and released by the Mayor to date is as follows:

 

2014

2015

Number of citizen complaints filed

96

76

Total number of matters reviewed

183

141

Number of Recommendations

183

76

Number of Recommendations accepted by Commissioner

179

74

Number of matters resulting in retraining, suspension, or other form of discipline

12

35

Number of Disciplinary Hearings

3

3

 

After review of these statistics, Mayor Sarno stated: “These numbers support the fact that the CPHB has helped ensure accountability and transparency and has placed the Springfield Police Department in line with nationally accepted best practices for civilian oversight. Some may criticize the Board as intrusive and unnecessary; while others may claim it is not intrusive enough. Without a transparent accountability model in place to help ensure that all complaints are investigated thoroughly and fairly, the Department risks losing legitimacy in the community, particularly in high crime neighborhoods where trust and confidence are most critical to effective policing.”

 

The Mayor’s Chief of Staff, Denise Jordan, who acts as the Mayor’s liaison to the CPHB, stated: “The CPHB review of each complaint consists of individual members of the CPHB taking time to visit the Police Department and review of every single citizen complaint received by the Police Department, with a recommendation for whether disciplinary charges should be initiated. These statistics have been listed in spread sheets with past CPHB annual reports (the last one in March of 2014 for the years 2012 and 2013) and a similar spreadsheet is in the process of being prepared for the years 2014 and 2015. In addition, where charges have been initiated as a result of a citizen’s complaint, the Police Commissioner has designated the CPHB to act as the Hearing Officer pursuant to the Mayor’s Executive Order and as provided under Massachusetts Civil Service Laws. In those cases the CPHB prepare a report to the Commissioner to make findings as set forth in the Executive Order, and recommend discipline to the Commissioner.”

 

As to the merits determination for each complaint, the CPHB makes one of the following decisions about each allegation in the complaint in its recommendations:

 

(a) “Unfounded,” where the investigation determined no facts to support that the incident complained of actually occurred;

(b) “Sustained,” where the complainant’s allegation is supported by sufficient evidence to determine that the incident occurred and the actions of the officer were improper;

(c) “Insufficient facts,” where there are insufficient facts to decide whether

the alleged misconduct occurred;

(d) “Exonerated,” where a preponderance of the evidence shows that the alleged conduct did occur but did not violate the policies, procedures, practices, orders or training of the SPD.

 

Mayor Sarno has also initiated changes in the method of gathering and reporting of data as to CPHB activity: “I have asked City Solicitor Pikula to draft a revision of the current Executive Order, with the cooperation of Police Commissioner John Barbieri and City Clerk Anthony Wilson, to facilitate the use of the Police Department’s Crime Analysis Bureau to gather the statistics from the CPHB, instead of Citistat as originally required, and for the statistics to be reported to City Clerk Anthony Wilson so that he can post them on the City’s website in accordance with the requirements of the Executive Order. In addition, I have asked that the Law Department continue to report police misconduct cases to the CPHB on an annual basis and that these statistics continue to be reported with each Annual Report as has been the practice. With these changes, the form of civilian oversight will continue to evolve in the Springfield Police Department.”

 

Mayor Sarno noted that: “The evolution of the CPHB to date shows that civilian oversight and review of the investigation of complaints and use of force incidents has become a standard practice for the Springfield Police Department. The issue is no longer whether there should be civilian oversight, but rather, what type of civilian review is most appropriate for Springfield. No matter what process is followed, each will have their own strengths and weaknesses. However, the system in Springfield should continue to be a matter of local decision, not necessarily expanding it power or authority, but rather changed to increase its acceptance and legitimacy.”

 

The current members of the CPHB include: Chair Attorney George Bourguignon, Owner of a Security Business, Robert C. Jackson, Former Labor Union representative and retired Human Resource manager Albert Trangese, Former Police Officer Pastor Gail Hill, Retired educator and IT consultant Richard Muise. Funeral Director and Business Owner Paul A. Phaneuf and Property Manager Linda Caron.

 

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