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Retired Massachusetts Chief Justice To Consult On Police Reforms In Springfield

City of Springfield, Office of the Mayor

       A retired Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court will advise Springfield’s mayor on police reforms. 

      Roderick Ireland, the state’s first Black chief justice and a Springfield native, will act as Special Advisor to Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno.  

      In announcing the hireing of Ireland, the mayor's office said he will provide advise as the city looks to change police training, policies, and procedures in response to a scathing report last month from the U.S. Deparatment of Justice.

     The  DOJ report said narcotics officers routinely used excessive force that included punching people in the head and neck.

      During a meeting with Springfield City Councilors Thursday, City Solicitor Ed Pikula spoke about the hiring of Ireland.

      "I think we are going to benefit from his expertise professionaly and his integrity, his experience, and background, which is uniquely qualified since he is one of us -- a Springfield native," said Pikula.

       City Council President Justin Hurst said he would ask the Public Safety Committee to schedule a meeting to get more information about the hiring of Ireland as a consultant on police reforms.

       In a statement released by Sarno's office, Ireland said "I am honored to have been asked by Mayor Sarno to serve as his Special Advisor.  Police reform is a critically important topic, not only in Springfield, but also nationally, and I look forward to sharing my best thinking with him, based on many years as a public defender, lawyer, judge, and student of the law.  The citizens of Springfield deserve a law enforcement agency which they can trust, and which follows the rule of law and our Constitution."

      Ireland retired from the bench in 2014. 

      In 2017, he was a special advisor to the Speaker of the Masschusetts House on criminal justice reform.  In 2018, he was hired by the city of Cambridge to do a review of the police department's arrest procedures.


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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