Springfield City Council to vote on plan to bring back civilian police commission

The City Council is expected to vote on the plan Monday.

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The Springfield City Council is scheduled to vote on a measure that could eliminate the city’s office of the police commissioner and replace it with a civilian police commission.

The proposal would bring back the city’s old way of doing things. If the city council votes in favor of the change, a new civilian police commission and civil service chief would be implemented. It would be in charge of hiring, promoting and disciplining police officers.

Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno said he is not in favor of bringing the civilian commission back.

“The reality is, running a modern-day urban police department is very complex and complicated,” Sarno said. “The old system is antiquated and was abandoned by the Financial Control Board to modernize and professionalize the police department.”

City Council members proposed the idea last week, following allegations of misconduct within the Springfield Police Department. Members have said they’re disappointed in the way Springfield Police Commissioner John Barbieri disciplined officers following these allegations.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office and the District Attorney’s Office are investigating an incident involving Detective Gregg Bigda, who was never fired after he allegedly threatened two teenagers during an interrogation. The offices are also taking a look at an incident from April 2015 when a group of off-duty officers allegedly jumped four unarmed black men in a parking lot.

Barbieri has said that he followed the proper procedures when handling both cases. None of the officers were fired.

If implemented, the change would not happen until 2019, when Barbieri’s current contract with the city runs out.