Springfield Police Tout Gun Seizures, Arrests
After a weekend that saw at least seven people stuck by gunfire, authorities in Springfield, Massachusetts highlighted recent efforts to get guns off the streets.
Springfield Police Commissioner Cheryl Clapprood announced the recent arrests of five people and the seizure of nine firearms and hundreds of rounds of ammunition as part of what she said was the police department’s ongoing effort to suppress gun violence.
"Springfield was violent over the weekend, so was a lot of other cities across the country," Clapprood said.
Amid the upswing in gun violence, Springfield police have seized 109 illegally possessed firearms so far this year. Almost 200 guns were taken off the streets last year.
"Right now there is an uptick in seizing high-capacity weapons," Clapprood said.
The gun seizures highlighted at Tuesday’s news conference were the result of two separate months-long investigations by the Springfield Police Narcotics Unit, Massachusetts State Police Violent Fugitive Apprehension Squad, Hampden County Sheriff’s Department, U.S. Marshall’s Task Force, and the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF).
"I think it is quite obvious and not too far of a stretch that by what you see in front of you has definately saved lives and injuries to the citizens and police officers and law enforcement across our state," Clapprood said referring to a table of firearms and ammunition displayed at the news conference.
One of the people arrested had a prior conviction on firearms charges. Another has an open firearms case from an arrest last year.
At the news conference, Mayor Domenic Sarno repeated his frequent criticism of the courts for what he called “a revolving door justice policy” when it comes to people charged with gun crimes.
"And I am going to keep saying it and I know that pisses off some in the court system and the judges, but I have to stand up for my residents and business community," Sarno said.
Springfield Police Captain Brian Keenan, who heads the narcotics division and is also the president of the police supervisors’ union, blamed the rise in gun violence nationwide on what he called the “unintended consequences” of police reforms.
" What I am saying is, if you look at the brain drain and you look across law enforcement throughout the country you are getting officers and detectives with significant experience, significant time on significant cases and they are not here anymore, and more police reform was the conduit to get them out the door," Keenan said. "They are being replaced by newer officers and there is a learning curve in this business that often takes 5-10 years to gete comfortable in it."
The gun violence in Springfield over the holiday weekend included a drive-by shooting at a gas station on North Main Street that left three people wounded, according to Clapprood.
"We are working on our shootings, the ( detective bureau) is working hard. We do have video on most of ( the shootings)," Clapprood said.
Clapprood said investigators do not believe any of the shootings are related.
Two were the result of domestic disputes, according to the commissioner.