SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – As Springfield residents hope for an end to the recent violence in the city, a new leader for the police force has officially taken office.
John Barbieri was sworn-in as the city’s new police commissioner during a ceremony at the Old First Church at Court Square late Thursday morning.
Public officials, including Mayor Domenic Sarno, Sheriff Michael Ashe, and Congressman Richard Neal praised Barbieri in remarks in front of the crowds of officers, friends, and city residents.
The new commissioner will have to deal with an increase in gun violence over recent days.
Three people have been killed in shootings in the city since May 26, with two of those victims dying on Wednesday. There have been several other shooting incidents across the city since mid-May, including a double shooting on State Street last week that happened in the middle of the day.
Below are the opening remarks from the ceremony given by master of ceremonies Tony Cignoli:
Good Morning and what a historical morning this is. My name is Anthony Cignoli and I am so privileged to serve as Master of this Ceremony, this day, in this place.
Springfield was founded in 1636. This church, it was founded in 1637.
In these pews, Springfield’s people have knelt and prayed and hoped for peace and safety. In these pews, Springfield’s Constables, Sheriff’s, Marshall’s and Police Chiefs, those who have come before John Barbieri, have also knelt, and prayed for the strength and guidance to provide that peace and safety for the public they swore to serve and protect.
This city, Springfield, has been a wonderful and successful experiment in Democracy. It has been a 378-year journey, to this moment. And for John Barbieri, it has been just as successful of a dedicated and committed journey to this moment in his career.
Daniel Webster and John Brown sat in these pews, The Underground Railroad organized and operated here. The body of the President of the United States, John Quincy Adams, lay in state, right there, in the center isle of this church.
Just outside, on the front steps of City Hall, John F. Kennedy addressed our nation, and from his law office across the Square, George Ashmun, the man who nominated Lincoln for the Presidency worked and advised that same President.
And all this, today, in the shadow of the place that George Washington personally chose to build the nation’s first armory, for the protection and defense of this country. Washington, Webster, all of them, would be proud that we gather here today, to celebrate a man who will carry forth their legacy of justice and service for the people of Springfield. Today those leaders would be proud that John Barbieri will carry on their mission.
Thank you all for your love of this city.