Police department reform is coming to Springfield, Massachusetts.
The City of Springfield has reached an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division to make changes to its policies and training procedures after an investigation into "unconstitutional practices" surrounding use of force at the Springfield Police Department's Narcotics Bureau.
In 2020, the Department of Justice announced findings of an investigation into the Narcotics Bureau, which has since been renamed the Firearms Investigations Unit, according to WWLP-TV, which found a pattern of excessive force in violation of the 4th amendment of the constitution. The U.S. Attorney's Office said their investigation found chronic issues with use of force and poor record-keeping, among other problems.
Late last year, an officer was acquitted of using excessive force and abusive interrogation. Part of the accusation included a videotape of him threatening to kill a suspect.
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"Systemic problems that led to a pattern of excessive source," said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts and the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division filed a complaint and proposed decree Wednesday, which will serve as means to resolve the investigation.
The agreement outlines the changes the department must now make to hold them accountable and reduce their use of force.
"In my pocket are four pages of timelines that I have to meet," Springfield Police Superintendent Cheryl Clapprood said.
City leaders and U.S. Attorney Rachael Rollins made the announcement on Wednesday.
"These kinds of issues not only erode the trust of the community but put officers' lives at risk," Rollins said.
The agreement reached will require the Springfield Police Department to improve policies and training around use of force, including having officers trained on de-escalation techniques and stronger reporting requirements when force is used.
It also has a federal judge appoint an independent monitor to assess the department's implementation of the agreement's requirements and to file public reports on the work.
The police unions will still have to sign off, and a judge still has to approve the agreement.