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Mayor Is 'Ripped' By Springfield Police Officer's Alleged Mocking Of Charlottesville Violence

City of Springfield, Office of the Mayor

     There is widespread condemnation by elected officials in Springfield, Massachusetts over a social media post, attributed to a city cop, which mocked the dead and injured among the counter-protestors in Charlottesville, Virginia.

      Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno Monday said there would be a swift internal investigation by the Springfield Police Department and a review by the Community Police Hearings Board into the Facebook post purportedly written by a Springfield Police Officer.

      " We will pursue it all the way to what the letter of the law allows," Sarno vowed during an interview Monday.

       The post, under a news article about a car running down anti-racism protestors, leaving one dead and 19 injured, said “Hahahaha love this, maybe people shouldn’t block roads.”

       Sarno condemned the remarks as " completely unwarranted, insensitive, and something that just ripped me."

       MassLive reported it was able to confirm the post was written by Conrad Lariviere. A person by that name has been employed by the Springfield Police Department since 2014. 

       Attempts to contact Lariviere Monday were unsuccessful.

      The post on Facebook appeared just a short time after the mayor had issued a statement that he was “extremely alarmed and upset” by what happened Saturday in Charlottesville, VA., and questioned “What is our country coming to?”

       Springfield Police Commissioner John Barbieri wrote in an email that he had taken “immediate steps to initiate a prompt and thorough internal investigation” into the Facebook post.

        City Councilor Justin Hurst, who has been critical of Barbieri’s handling of police misconduct cases, praised the commissioner for launching an immediate investigation.

       " I think we've struggled in the past with holding our officers responsible, and I hope the commissioner will do so in this particular case," said Hurst.

       This is another black eye for the Springfield Police Department. A year ago, the department was reeling after a detective was videotaped threatening to kill and plant drug evidence on two teenagers and bragging he could get away with it because he was a cop.

      Several pending drug cases in which the detective, Gregg Bigda, was slated to be a witness were dismissed or saw the charges reduced.

      The 60-day suspension Bigda was given as punishment by Barbieri was criticized as lenient and it led to a vote by the City Council to put a civilian board of commissioners in charge of the department when Barbieri’s contract expires in 2019.

      Councilor Melvin Edwards said the Springfield police deserve credit for good things that have happened.

       " Crime is down, relationships are better and this is not a reflection of the leadership ( of the police department). This is just an individual's ignorance being reflected on social media," said Edwards.

            This is the second time recently that disturbing social media comments have been made by public safety officials in Springfield.  In June, Facebook posts made by two fire department supervisors were branded as racist and insulting to city councilors.

     Sarno responded by suspending contract talks with the union that represents the city’s district fire chiefs.

Paul Tuthill is WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief. He’s been covering news, everything from politics and government corruption to natural disasters and the arts, in western Massachusetts since 2007. Before joining WAMC, Paul was a reporter and anchor at WRKO in Boston. He was news director for more than a decade at WTAG in Worcester. Paul has won more than two dozen Associated Press Broadcast Awards. He won an Edward R. Murrow award for reporting on veterans’ healthcare for WAMC in 2011. Born and raised in western New York, Paul did his first radio reporting while he was a student at the University of Rochester.
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