SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – A new report Thursday night from the Springfield Community Police Hearing Board gives us an overview of complaints and lawsuits filed against the Springfield Police Department.
Over the past ten years, the City of Springfield has been involved in 33 lawsuits that allege that Springfield police officers used excessive force. Most of those were dismissed or settled.
The Community Police Hearing Board’s report gives us an overview of the complaints the board reviewed in 2012 and 2013.
In 2012, the board reviewed 86 complaints. In 2013, there were 92 complaints.
The majority of the complaints were from residents, alleging that the police officers they dealt with were rude. Out of those 178 complaints over that two year period, just 8 involved criminal charges.
22News talked to the Community Police Hearing Board Chair George Bourguignon. He said the board hears from both sides before making any necessary discipline actions to Police Commissioner William Fitchet.
“Anybody that makes a complaint gets a fair shake, and also, that the Springfield Police get a fair shake. So that’s our main focus is that day to day decision making process to try to dispense justice properly,” said Bourguignon.
The Board Chair told 22News if an officer needs to be disciplined because of the complaint, they follow up several times with both sides before making any recommendations.
“All of our recommendations that have been made, the commissioner has at least dispensed that amount of discipline that we have recommended, and I guess in some instances he’s even exceeded that,” said Bourguignon.
One woman told 22News this kind of system employs checks and balances to ensure equal and fair treatment.
“You know, everybody has a voice, so I do think it’s a good system, and it’ll help us out as residents to say, ‘this officer did this and this is what we need done,” said Leslie Smith of Springfield.
The Community Police Hearing Board is made up of 7 Springfield residents.