Mayor Domenic J. Sarno today announced that he would reallocate funding from the Police Department and match that dollar amount to fund the city’s new Street Outreach Workers Program and Cultural Sensitivity/Mental Health Training Programs for the City of Springfield Health and Human Services (HHS) Department in support of the new Office of Racial Equity.
Mayor Sarno stated, “As a result of my continued dialogue with community leaders and as a follow up to my announcement declaring racism as a public health crisis. I have created the Office of Racial Equity in order to create a comprehensive solution towards cultural change. I will reallocate $125,000 of police funds and match another $125,000 for a total of $250,000 to our Health and Human Services Department. This is for a proactive new Street Outreach Workers Program and cultural sensitivity/mental health training for our police department to enhance and build upon their already established training. In working with Police Commissioner Cheryl Clapprood, Health and Human Services Commissioner Helen Caulton-Harris, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer Attorney Talia Gee and in meetings with our Director of Constituent Services Darryl E. Moss and Edward Caisse, the Director of High-Risk Re-entry for the Hampden County Sheriff Department, I have determined that there needs to be enhanced multiple approaches for youth outreach options and for police officers to better understand cultural and mental health aspects – not only within our community but also within the department itself.”
Mayor Sarno continued, “Under this Street Outreach Workers Program, there would be gang and youth outreach activities engaging gang members in the streets and through home visits. The street workers advocate for gang members in the courts (when appropriate), mediate disputes and gang truces and refer gang members and their families to government and community programs. Street Workers can play a pivotal and critical role in personally inviting gang members to meetings with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to communicate a message of zero tolerance for firearm homicides.”
“Building upon our successful C3 Community Policing and HUB and COR Initiative by adding our Health and Human Services Department attributes will put an emphasis on addressing the root cause of problems in our neighborhoods rather than simply focusing on symptoms with police resources,” Mayor Sarno added.