Springfield City Council reviewing police commissioner decision

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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Springfield city councilors want to eliminate the police commissioner’s office, but there are several legal obstacles. The biggest hurdle is getting the mayor’s approval. If the council doesn’t have that, they likely won’t make any change to the commissioner’s office.

In 2 weeks, Springfield city councilors will decide whether to eliminate the police commissioner’s office, and replace it with a a civil service chief, and a civil police commission. Springfield’s public safety committee met with Commissioner John Barbieri and the city solicitor to clarify which ordinances allow this change.

“Nobody is suggesting that the police commissioner is doing a bad job,” says Springfield city councilor Tom Ashe, “but I want to make sure we’re making opinions that are based on fact and not on emotions.”

If the council votes to get rid of the commissioner’s office, Mayor Sarno likely veto it. The council couldn’t override a veto, according to city solicitor Ed Pikula. A change wouldn’t affect Commissioner Barbieri’s current contract which runs through 2019.

Commissioner Barbieri told 22News, “Can you imagine trying to run a corporation or a business and having no control over who’s promoted or fired, and no control in regard to the people who are doing the best job possible?”

City Solicitor Pikula told 22News, the only way the council could override the mayor is to take the matter to court, or have voters decide in a ballot question.

A majority of the councilors have already voted for this change. Their next vote is December 5th.