Police commissioner sworn in after violent week

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The City of Springfield has a new police commissioner as the city has been through a violent and deadly week. 22News discovered how the new commissioner plans to make the city safer.

New Commissioner John Barbieri knows it won’t happen over night, but he does have a new plan of attack.

Barbieri is the new top cop in Springfield. He was sworn in as the city’s new police commissioner on Thursday. From ceremonial bagpipes to bullets. Barbieri begins the job as the city has seen an increase in violence.

“We had a bad week,” said Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno. Three murders and at least five others shot in the past 11 days.

“I certainly think it’s a wake up call to myself and the residents of the city,” said Barbieri.

“Street crime, specifically violent street crime can change the perception of a city.  Mayor Domenic Sarno told 22News they have some work to do.

“It stems from youth violence, young people and this age of disrespect for life, but that is still not good for the city of Springfield.

Sarno selected Barbieri in part for his work helping cut down the violence in Springfield’s North End. Barbieri and other officers worked with the state police using a form of community policing. Right now about half of the city’s officers are inside while the other half is on the street. Barbieri told 22News that needs to change.

“The goal is to shift to a 70/30 (split), to have 70 percent of the officers on the street and 30 percent who are assigned inside who are following up on investigations, hopefully the 70 percent will be able to collaborate with the community so we’re more responsive to crime in the neighborhoods.

Barbieri replaces a retiring William Fitchet. The two murders Wednesday bring Springfield’s total for the year up to five.

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