“Repeat violent criminal offenders” is a term that has become all too common these days. Too often our brave and dedicated men and women of the Springfield Police Department are rearresting the same individuals on gun, drug and violent charges, some with outstanding warrants, prior convictions, pending gun and drug charges, out on bail, out on GPS bracelets.
The list goes on.
Even our news outlets, such as The Republican, report that our dedicated law enforcement officials continue to rearrest suspects on violent crimes involving guns and drugs, and that most have known prior convictions or pending charges. They are the 1% to 2% of criminal activity that continue to use violence and guns in our community and deal poison on our streets.
At what point are we as a society going to take a long, hard look at our laws and ask for change?
It is these 1% to 2% of the criminal population of repeat violent offenders that continue to cause mayhem in our community and hurt our residents and businesses. When do we say enough is enough?
How many times are our courts going to be lenient with these repeat violent criminal offenders? There are no consequences for their violent actions. They laugh at our officers, our courts, some judges and our residents. They go right back to their violent criminal activity – hurting and even killing our residents.
As mayor, I have never wavered in standing up for my city, for my residents and our business community. The war on crime will remain my number-one priority. Enhancing public safety and quality of life are priorities for my administration, working with Police Superintendent Cheryl Clapprood, District Attorney Anthony Gulluni and Hampden County Sheriff Nick Cocchi.
Cocchi has a very successful and nationally acclaimed re-entry and counseling program that gets those in need the help and services to better their lives and get them back on their feet so not to reoffend.
We are all committed to keeping our community as safe as possible, where everyone, no matter their creed, color or background, can live, work and raise a family with a good quality of life and not be terrorized by a few bad actors.
However, in order to accomplish this, and address the 1% to 2% of criminals that are repeat violent offenders, we need commonsense reform in our court system, which is why I supported former Gov. Charlie Baker’s dangerousness legislation and continue to file my bail reform legislation with the support from state Rep. Angelo J. Puppolo.
My bail reform legislation, House Bill 1725, which is pending before the Joint Committee on the Judiciary, would not take away any current rights of defendants. It is to be one more tool in keeping violent offenders off our streets and to keep our residents and businesses safe by giving our Commonwealth and district attorneys equal footing as it relates to the ability of appealing bail set in District Court.
Too often, we see repeat violent offenders involved and charged with guns, drugs and other violent crimes back on our streets and in our community on low or no bail.
What message does that send to our residents and business community that work with our police department to get these individuals off our streets and make our neighborhoods safe, only to see them back in their neighborhoods within hours or days doing the same crimes they were originally arrested on?
It is aggravating and frustrating.
These repeat violent criminal offenders have little to no regard for the conditions in which they are released. None of the conditions of their release seems to deter them from causing trouble in our community and impacting the quality of life for our residents and businesses. It seems they have more rights than their victims and our residents.
We have a multitude of proactive and preventative youth development and workforce development programs through our schools, community-based nonprofits, religious organizations, sheriff’s office and even our court system.
What is needed now more than ever is commonsense legislation, my bail reform bill, and respect for our citizens and business community.
Our Springfield Police Department will continue to make arrests, continue to take a record number of illegal guns, including more and more ghost guns, off our streets and out of our neighborhoods, and continue to save lives.
Now, if we really want to knock down gun violence, we need backup from our courts and our state Legislature to keep these repeat violent criminal offenders off our streets and out of our neighborhoods.
Domenic J. Sarno is the mayor of Springfield.