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Plans Announced To Boost Public Safety As MGM Springfield Nears Completion

    Plans have been announced for a permanent expanded police presence in downtown Springfield, Massachusetts in advance of the scheduled opening next year of the MGM casino.

   City officials said Monday that a police substation will be put in a building on Dwight Street across from the MassMutual Center and roughly a block east of where the $950 million resort casino is under construction.  The planned locations of a series of police kiosks, or booths, downtown were also revealed.

    The substation will serve as the base for a new Metro Area Police Unit that will consist of 41 specially trained officers and supervisors.

    MGM, as part of its casino development agreement with the city, is paying $1.5 million to support the additional downtown police presence. The casino is projected to draw 10,000 visitors a day.

    Plans to beef up public safety downtown were announced by Mayor Domenic Sarno in March 2016 as part of an enhanced policing initiative that called for the largest police department hirings in more than 20 years.

  "Having a strong police presence not only downtown but in our neighborhoods brings a sense of security and brings that sense of investment," Sarno said.

    46 cadets graduated from the police academy last fall. A new police academy of 50 recruits has been budgeted to begin later this year.

     Police Commissioner John Barbieri said the new police unit in the Metro Center will be deployed roughly six months ahead of the scheduled opening of the MGM casino in September 2018.

   "It is our intention to man the Metro Area to the level to provide services to the businesses, the casino, and restaurants for the people who decide to live, work, and play in the Metro Area, but also to provide an uninterrupted level of service to the rest of the community," said Barbieri.

   The police booths will be located at Main and Taylor Streets, Main and Morris Streets and in Riverfront Park.  The booths will be lighted and staffed round-the-clock.

   " The goal is a holistic approach to that area to make it as safe as possible for people to live, work, and play in," explained Barbieri.

   Springfield Chief Development Officer Kevin Kennedy said the public safety initiative is part of a comprehensive effort to bring activity and restore vitality throughout the downtown area.

    The police substation will be located next to long-blighted Pynchon Plaza.  The two-level park has a water fountain and an elevator – neither of which has worked in decades.  The park has been fenced off from the public for years and several attempts have failed to come up with the money city officials say is needed for repairs.


The record-setting tenure of Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno. The 2011 tornado and its recovery that remade the largest city in Western Massachusetts. The fallout from the deadly COVID outbreak at the Holyoke Soldiers Home. Those are just a few of the thousands and thousands of stories WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill has covered for WAMC in his nearly 17 years with the station.
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