Springfield, Mass., Police Commissioner Retires

Feb 21, 2019

Mayor Domenic Sarno of Springfield, Massachusetts, announced on Thursday that Police Commissioner John Barbieri is retiring. 

Barbieri has been with the police department for more than 30 years, and was commissioner for nearly five.

Pressed on the reasons for Barbieri's departure, Sarno would only say it was a "mutually accepted decision... [in] the best interests of the city and the department."

Cheryl Clapprood will be acting commissioner. She's a 39-year veteran of the department, and became the department's first female deputy chief when Barbieri promoted her in 2017. She has served as commander of the city's C3 policing program.

"This is a new beginning for our police department," Sarno said, "and an opportunity to improve upon procedures and programs." 

Clapprood said she'll continue a plan to have patrol officers wear body cameras, which she said will help rebuild the public's trust.

"I expect and demand that all officers will wear their badge with honesty and integrity, and that supervisors alike will hold these officers accountable for their actions," Clapprood said. "I'm going to demand accountability. And if somebody goes rogue, or does something wrong, they will be held accountable."

The change at the top of the Springfield Police Department comes as the city deals with multiple accusations of police brutality, and during a local election year.

Surveillance video emerged this week showing an altercation between a Springfield officer and a man disputing a parking ticket at police headquarters in 2017. And last week, criminal charges were brought against several Springfield police officers for allegedly beating a group of civilians at a bar in 2015. Those charges are part of an ongoing investigation by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey and the FBI that had previously charged one other officer with assault. 

A federal indictment last fall alleged two Springfield officers used excessive force during the arrests of two teens in 2016. 

Sarno said he will be considering a search process "in the near future."