Springfield Mayor, Sarno Accepts CJS Decision on Civilian Police Commission; says commissioner clapprood ain’t going nowhere

This is an update to a story that was posted at 1:25 p.m.

SPRINGFIELD — Mayor Domenic J. Sarno said Tuesday he accepts a ruling by the state Supreme Judicial Court that the city council was within its rights to create a police oversight committee, but said that he retained authority over who would direct the day-to-day operations of the department.

And that person will continue to be Police Commissioner Cheryl C. Clapprood.

Meanwhile, Clapprood said her contract with City runs until May 2024 and she will continue to serve until she hears further from Sarno or the legal department what the next steps will be.

Tuesday’s SJC decision brought a sudden end to a six-year struggle between the mayor and council over the operations of the police department. Sarno argued that it was his authority as mayor to appoint a single police commissioner, which the council’s position has been that he has the power to create a five-member police commission.

The decision sided with the board.

Sarno released a statement indicating that he accepts the court’s decision. But, he said, the decision “in no way diminished my authority as mayor to appoint and determine the responsibilities of this person responsible for the management and operation of the Springfield Police Department.”

A new police commission would be responsible for oversight, not the day-to-day running of the department, he said. He will oversee discipline, termination, removal and reappointment, which was the function of the single police commissioner.

He said he expects to nominate five candidates shortly. Sarno created a Community Policing Hearing Board in 2010 that was to review complaints and make non-binding recommendations to the commissioner, who would impose a penalty. It is unclear what the status of the hearing committee will be.

Clapprood will retain “day-to-day duties relating to the operation of the police department, including the ‘command and control’ of all members of the department, professional standards, as well as hiring, promotions and assignments,” said the mayor. .

In his statement, Clapprood said the department has made great strides in modernization, including implementing body-worn cameras and a reduction in the number of use-of-force complaints. She said through her work with the Community Police Hearing Board, “I’ve been a strong discipline in holding officers accountable for their actions.”

She said Sarno approached her to be police commissioner in 2019 and she intended to stay on until her contract ended.

“The mayor asked me to take on this important task and I continue to give everything to rebuild the image of our department by instilling values ​​in our young officers so that they are proud of this profession,” said Clapprood.

Meanwhile, State Representative Orlando Ramos, a former city councilman, said he appreciated Sarno conceding the point in the wake of the SJC ruling, but said it should never have taken so long. long time.

“Resurrection of the police commission was one of the first votes I took when I was on city council in February 2014 and again in 2016,” he said in a statement.

“The mayor of Sarno’s refusal to appoint the commission in a timely manner has cost our city taxpayers millions of dollars and prolonged a system that allowed people like Det. (Gregg A.) Bigda will remain employed,” he said. “Additionally, the mayor’s challenge cost the city tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees as he continued to defend his position and appeal the court’s decision. Mayor Sarno owes Springfield taxpayers an apology!

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