Legal Battle Looms Over Springfield Police Commission

Dec 19, 2018

A potential legal battle is brewing between the city council in Springfield, Massachusetts, and Mayor Domenic Sarno over the resurrection of the city's police commission.

For the second time in a couple of years, the council this week voted to bring back the police commission, overriding a mayoral veto.

Sarno called the commission system "antiquated." He said he plans to do the same thing he did when the council passed a similar ordinance in 2016.

"Nothing. Nothing. Absolutely nothing," the mayor said Tuesday. "It is illegal, and cannot be done as my city solicitor has indicated."

City Councilor Adam Gomez said some councilors have mentioned possible legal action over this.

Gomez said he understands the mayor may feel comfortable with the current system of a single commissioner and citizens advisory board.

But "some community organizations and councilors feel there has to be a little more transparency, specifically when it comes to police misconduct issues," Gomez said.

Springfield used to have a police commission, but that was eliminated by a state financial control board in 2005. 

The latest ordinance is slightly different from the 2016 version. It gives the mayor full authority to select the members of a potential police commission.