Wednesday, August 30, 2017
Dear Springfield Residents, Business Community and Beyond,
We appreciate your many justified comments and concerns in regards to this matter. We are well aware that there is always more work to do and that we certainly do not have all the answers, but we do want to assure you that the management team at the Springfield Police Department takes this matter very seriously. Our goal is to serve and protect all peoples in our city.
In the last three years, we have worked hard to professionally develop our personnel to better serve the community, fostering a guardian mentality – working by with and through the community on crime and quality of life issues. Some of the pertinent instruction topics include, but are not limited to: diversity/bias training; de-escalation; and point on point training (addressing the need for officers to intercede/report bad peer misbehavior). We have a unique program, for our most economically troubled areas, C-3 policing, featured on “60 Minutes”. Our C-3 officers work with for-profit, non-profit, church, local, state and federal agencies and residents to address ALL neighborhood issues. Officers assigned to that unit (including Commissioner Barbieri) have attended a 40 hour course, Healing Racism. Additionally, before this incident, the department began working with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination regarding costs/logistics for their instructors to provide expanded multi-diversity training. We will continue to work with that agency to make that happen. There are numerous community meetings held monthly as well as two recently held community forums hosted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office – the input received regarding our officers has been positive. With these initiatives, we have reduced overall crime this year by nearly 20%.
In regards to expanding the diversity of the department, a survey by the Massachusetts Major Chiefs Association listed the Springfield Police Department as employing the highest percentage of minority officers in its ranks compared to other Massachusetts police departments. The survey showed that 38% of Springfield’s police force were minority officers. The next closest department in the survey was Boston with 34%. Springfield will continue efforts to recruit and promote a diverse work force reflective of the community we serve.
The Internal Investigation of this incident is ongoing – we have prioritized it. At completion, the investigation will be reviewed by an all civilian volunteer review board – Community Policing Hearing Board. They have the power to hold hearings, listen to testimony, review all evidence and make a determination regarding disciplinary recommendations.
John R. Barbieri, Police Commissioner
Domenic J. Sarno, Mayor