Superior Court judge orders Sarno mayor to appoint civilian police commission
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – A major decision for the city of Springfield.
A Hampden Superior Court judge ordered Mayor Domenic Sarno to appoint a civilian police commission.
The start of a police council would mean the elimination of a single police commissioner role and instead the Springfield Police Department would have a chief of police with a council that would have five civilian commissioners.
If implemented, these civilian residents of Springfield, who are appointed by the mayor, have the power to hire, fire, and discipline Springfield police officers.
The chief of police would oversee the day-to-day operations of the department instead of a single commissioner with all those powers as is the case now.
In a statement to 22News Springfield, Mayor Domenic Sarno said, among other things:
We have long expected this case to finally be decided by the Massachusetts Courts of Appeals. This is the first step and we look forward to the next step in this process.
Domenic J. Sarno, Mayor of Springfield
Springfield Councilman and State Representative Orlando Ramos also responded to the court’s decision. In a statement to 22News, he said:
As President of Public Safety, I am very pleased with the court’s decision in this case. I have voted several times in favor of the Civilian Police Commission Ordinance; in fact, it was the very first bill that I attached my name to when I was first elected to public office in 2013. I did it because I think it’s a system that would allow for greater accountability; and this is consistent with the reforms that many of us fought so vehemently to implement within the Springfield Police Department.
Orlando Ramos, State Representative and Springfield City Councilman
The move comes after the Springfield City Council twice voted to pass a police commission, which the mayor of Sarno vetoed in 2016 and 2018, but the council overruled both times. .
The Springfield City Council then went a step further and voted to allow two attorneys to sue for the city to enforce the council’s vote on creating a civilian board of police commissioners.
The last time Springfield had a five-member commission was in 2005.