Springfield, DOJ agree to 'blueprint for reform' of police force

The U.S. Department of Justice and the city of Springfield plan to enter into a consent decree that will resolve the federal government's claim that the Springfield Police Department's narcotics bureau engaged in a pattern or practice of excessive force that deprived individuals of their constitutional rights.

Announced Wednesday in Springfield by federal officials including U.S. Attorney Rachael Rollins and Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department's civil rights division, the settlement agreement needs approval from a U.S. district court judge.

Rollins said the agreement "addresses policy, training and cultural issues" and "provides a blueprint for reform."

Clarke said Springfield and the DOJ will jointly recommend a monitor that will "serve as the court's eyes and ears during the reform process" and file public reports every six months. She said the 69-page consent decree includes a requirement that officers will report all uses of force, including punches and kicks, and creates a new investigation team to evaluate the most serious uses of force.

"Real and lasting change does not happen fast," Clarke said. "Institutional reform is complex and requires diligence and persistence. Implementing the requirements of this decree in a way that is durable will take years, not months."

There are more than 500 sworn officers in Springfield, Rollins said. She said the government's investigation started with "a small department that no longer exists that had less than 24 people in it," and said that Mayor Domenic Sarno and Police Superintendent Cheryl Clapprood should be commended because "these reforms impact the entire department."

Clapprood said the city's police department "wants to be as best as we can be."



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