Community Police Hearing Board

Current Members

Atty. Ernesto Castillo, Chair
Pastor Gail Hill
Gary Berte
Albert Tranghese
Robert Jackson
Linda Caron
Paul Phaneuf

Mayor Sarno Signs Executive Order Creating Community Police Hearing Board

The Community Police Hearing Board (CPHB) was created by an Executive Order of Mayor Sarno in February 2010. The Executive Order is aimed at increasing police accountability to the community while assuring professional management of the Police Department.  It upholds the terms of the existing contract between the City of Springfield and Police Commissioner John Barbieri, and complies with all State Civil Service Laws.

The Board is made up of a diverse group of individuals representing different areas of the City, different racial, ethnic, gender and religious demographics - Black, Latino, White, Men and Women who represent different perspectives and backgrounds and careers, from human resources and union representation, education, security, law enforcement, the clergy, small business owners, and the legal field.

The Board has the authority to review and recommend discipline of police officers, where warranted, on all civilian complaints involving allegations of harassment; use of unreasonable or excessive force, use of language that is insulting, demeaning or humiliating; discriminatory treatment based on a person’s race, religion, national origin, sex, age, sexual orientation or disability; or retaliation against a person for filing a citizens complaint.

The Board is subject to open meeting laws, which provides that disciplinary hearings are open or closed at the option of the employee.  The Board is authorized to subpoena witnesses, compel their attendance, administer oaths, take the testimony of any person under oath and require the production of evidence relating to any matter before the Board.  

The Board is also charged with performing outreach and educating the community of the opportunity to file a complaint, public dissemination of information as to how and where to file, and the rights of the community in dealing with the police.  The Chairperson of the Board must be an Attorney with experience in administrative procedures so that the chair can provide leadership pursuant to the rule of law.  

Mayor Domenic J. Sarno stated that “civilian review of complaints regarding the use of force is necessary to ensure the integrity of the investigations in the eyes of the public.”  “Oversight with disciplinary authority will reassure the residents of the City of Springfield that investigations, even when conducted within the Police Department by the Internal Investigation Unit, are thorough and fair,” added Sarno.   

Mayor Sarno also stated that he is “incredibly thankful to the Community Complaint Review Board members for their hard work and commitment during their time of service.”  “Individually, each member demonstrated an ongoing commitment to the City of Springfield and collectively, their broad range of skills, experience and expertise provided the necessary input that allowed me to put forth this new Executive Order,” said Sarno. 

All Community Police Hearing Board members are required to go through training on how to conduct administrative hearings. 

Community Police Hearing Board Participates in Training with President of National Police Oversight Organization

06/14/2018

Thursday, June 14, 2018

The Springfield Community Police Hearing Board (CPHB) participated in a training session on Tuesday with Brian Corr, President of the National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement (NACOLE). NACOLE is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) association of law enforcement oversight agencies and practitioners that works to enhance accountability and transparency in policing and build community trust through civilian oversight. Membership is composed of oversight practitioners, law enforcement, elected officials, journalists, academics, students, community members, and others.

Mr. Corr, in addition to being the President of NACOLE, is employed by the City of Cambridge, Massachusetts as Executive Director of the City of Cambridge Police Review & Advisory Board as well as the Cambridge Peace Commission. He has been President of NACOLE since 2016, a member of the Board of Directors of NACOLE since 2012, and was formerly a Massachusetts Statewide Organizer for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

His presentation to the CPHB focused on “Enhancing Community Trust” and discussion comparing Springfield to the model of oversight utilized in Cambridge. He discussed the history and evolution of police oversight by civilians in American and in particular, the New England region. He included the theories as well as the “nuts and bolts” of the practice and procedure of policing and civilian oversight.

President Corr stated that he appreciated the opportunity to provide training to the CPHB and its staff and to share information about his work. He added, “I was impressed by the seriousness and commitment of the board members, and NACOLE looks forward to working to support the CPHB in its important work. It was great to learn more about how Springfield has created a collaborative model of civilian oversight where community members with training and guidance review police complaints and, when appropriate, recommend discipline. Their work is an essential part of promoting policing that is increasingly responsive to community needs.”

Mayor Domenic J. Sarno stated that he had met Mr. Corr earlier this year during a conference here in Springfield, and connected him with his Chief of Staff and CPHB liaison Denise Jordan to facilitate a meeting with our CPHB. He added, “It was good for the CPHB to hear from an expert and a colleague in this field. The CPHB has been providing civilian oversight under their executive order since 2010, and the process has evolved. Training sessions from NACOLE will help the CPHB enhance fair and professional law enforcement that is responsive to community needs.”

The CPHB members include a broad cross section of the community that reviews every complaint of police misconduct filed by a citizen with the police department.

City Solicitor Ed Pikula stated, “NACOLE organizes training conferences and seminars, Provides technical assistance and support, encourages networking, communication, and sharing information and best practices and offers a professional credential for oversight practitioners. The CPHB’s participation will help us stay up to date on best practices through NACOLE’s ability to provide nationwide information and act as a resource clearinghouse about policing and oversight”.

The CPHB was created by an Executive Order of Mayor Sarno in February 2010 and has evolved over the years. The current chair of the CPHB is Attorney Ernesto Castillo. Other current members of the CPHB include: Robert C. Jackson, Albert P. Tranghese, Reverend Gail Hill, Paul Phaneuf, Linda Caron and Dr. Gary Berte.

Page last updated:  Friday, August 31, 2018 02:29 pm