SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The City of Springfield has entered into a consent decree with the Justice Department which means the police department will have to make a series of changes that will be enforced by court order.
The agreement comes years after the Department of Justice began an investigation into the Springfield Police Department’s Narcotics Bureau which found a pattern of excessive force, poor record-keeping and other problems. The department has since implemented changes and ultimately shut down the narcotics bureau, replacing it with a new gun unit.
Under the new consent decree:
- Officers will have to report all uses of force including punches and kicks.
- Officers will have a duty to intervene to prevent excessive force.
- The Springfield Police will have to create a new force investigation team to investigate the most serious use of force.
- Officers will receive improved policies and training related to officer’s use of force.
An independent monitor will be appointed to ensure the city cooperates and that monitor will also communicate with police, members of the community, and the Department of Justice.
“When communities don’t trust or fear law enforcement, it undermines public safety. Some within the Springfield Police Department, through their sustained and documented constitutional violations, have tarnished the name of the many upstanding and decent police officers working in Springfield,” said U.S. Attorney Rachael Rollins. “Today is the first step in repairing the harm and mistrust their misconduct and violence caused. After lengthy negotiations, we are pleased to have reached an agreement that includes significant and sustainable reforms to ensure effective and constitutional policing going forward in the City of Springfield. This is the first police misconduct Settlement Agreement entered during the Biden Administration. Our U.S. Attorney’s Office will always protect the constitutional rights of Massachusetts residents.”
Watch below: U.S. Attorney Rollins discusses Springfield Police agreement
“The public’s trust in law enforcement is a critical component of promoting public safety. Excessive force erodes that trust and makes our communities less safe,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “This consent decree will rebuild the public’s trust by ensuring that Springfield officers who use excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment are held accountable. We look forward to working with city officials to ensure constitutional policing in every corner of the Springfield community and fostering better relationships between law enforcement and the community.”