SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Springfield City Councilor Justin Hurst wants Springfield Police Commissioner John Barbieri to be stripped of his disciplinary duties after failing to fire a detective accused of threatening to kill two juveniles.
City Councilor Hurst told 22News that he is disappointed in both Mayor Domenic Sarno and Commissioner Barbieri, who he said are protecting Detective Gregg Bigda from being fired, and by giving him a 60 day suspension instead.
Attorneys who have seen a video from the Palmer police department say it shows Bigda threatening to kill and plant drug evidence on a teenager who stole a cop car back in February.
Councilor Hurst said the Commissioner should have fired Bigda, and since he didn’t, the City should reevaluate what powers the Commissioner can have. We asked Hurst if he trusted the Mayor and the Commissioner, and he said, “It is very difficult for me to trust anybody who has waited this long to convey to the people exactly what occurred in the detective case. The fact that citizens are waiting, people want answers, and that our administration at the highest level has not been forthright with that information, it’s unfortunate, it’s disappointing, and hopefully it’s not a reflection of our city.”
Councilor Hurst also told 22News the Community Police Hearing Board is a sham because they didn’t hear this case. The board is appointed by the Mayor to recommend disciplinary action in these cases.
“Anytime that you can pick and choose which cases go to the community hearing review board, it does not bode well for having an independent eye giving solid recommendations in terms of the discipline of officers in instances of police misconduct,” said Hurst.
Hurst speculates what other information the mayor and commissioner are withholding about this incident, and situations like it. 22News asked, “So you do believe that there is some sort of coverup, or that there is something that is being concealed that truly shouldn’t be that way?” Councilor Hurst responded: I’d like to believe there’s not, but based off the facts and folks not coming forward with the evidence in a timely manner, folks will wonder why people don’t have the level of trust with not only the police department, but the administration that they should have.”
Mayor Sarno said Tuesday he doesn’t believe there is any systemic problem of police brutality in Springfield. In response to Councilor Hurst, the mayor told 22News, “I stand by my recent comments in support of Commissioner Barbieri and our men and women in blue, and the Community Police Hearing Board. Nothing is swept under the rug.”
The District Attorney’s Office is now reviewing this case.
22News has requested the police records and video, but was told nothing will be released until after the investigation.