15-member “Police/Community Relations Committee” appointed

New 15-member commission to be announced

Springfield City Hall is seen here in a WWLP file image.

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – City Council President Orlando Ramos announced new, 15-member committee he says designed to improve relations between city residents and their police department.

Thursday afternoon, Ramos and Public Safety Committee Chairman Tom Ashe announced the names of the “City Council Police/Community Relations Committee.” Ashe, who is a city councilor at-large, is set to lead the committee.

The committee includes representatives from each of the city’s eight wards. Other members include representatives from the patrolmen’s union, the NAACP, and other local groups.

Members of the City Council have been at odds with Mayor Domenic Sarno over the administration of the police department. In December, the council voted 10-2 to eliminate the office of police commissioner, and replace it with a civilian police commission and a civil service chief. Sarno vetoed the proposal, and was overridden. The mayor says, however, that the council does not have even have the authority to make such a change to begin with.

While there is currently no civilian commission in Springfield, there is a five-member Community Police Hearing Board, which advises Commissioner John Barbieri. The board’s members are appointed by the mayor.