At a critical juncture in its history, the Springfield, Massachusetts Police Department is increasing its supervisory ranks.
The Springfield Police Department Wednesday held a ceremony to promote a captain and two lieutenants. Combined they have nearly 60 years of experience.
Promoting veteran cops to supervisory roles has been a priority for Acting Police Commissioner Cheryl Clapprood since she became the city’s top cop almost two months ago.
She recently elevated five police officers to the rank of sergeant.
Clapprood said the goal is to restore discipline and pride within the department and gain back public trust.
"I am faced with a challenging time for the Springfield Police Department and my vision for its future depends on good support from supervisors, especially from the street supervisors," said Clapprood.
A dozen Springfield police officers are currently suspended because they face criminal charges. 14 current and former Springfield cops were indicted last month by a statewide grand jury for a 2015 assault on four men and attempts to cover it up.
The U.S. Justice Department has been investigating possible civil rights violations by former members of the police department’s narcotics unit.
At Wednesday’s ceremony, Clapprood told the newly promoted officials she expects them to hold accountable the people they will supervise.
"We are ready to go forward without any further horrible incidents to further embarrass anybody," said Clapprood. "We know we need to strengthen up. We know need to firm up and that is the appointments I am trying to make."
One of the new lieutenants, Joseph Dunn, who joined the force in 2008, said he is ready to carry out the acting commissioner’s orders "100 percent."
"We all know it is trying times and officers need us to get the morale up and for guidence and teaching," said Dunn.
Like many police departments across the country, Springfield is being hit by a wave of retirements as veteran cops look to leave the stress and danger of the job behind and collect their pensions.
More than two-thirds of the officers currently working the midnight shift for the Springfield Police Department have less than 5 years of experience, according to Clapprood.
" Unfortunately, with the youth comes a lot of desire and ability to work, but not the experience to make the right decisions, but that will be solved with a good street supervision staff," Clapprood said in an interview.
Mayor Domenic Sarno said the new supervisors will be role model and mentors.
"That is critical to being a succesful police department and a respected police department," said Sarno.
Newly-promoted Lt. Ariel Toledo has received six commendations including one for rescuing a young girl who had been kidnapped and arresting the armed suspect.
The police department’s newest captain, Lawrence Murphy, was recently put in charge of the Internal Investigations Unit, where he reports directly to Acting Commissioner Clapprood.
A consultant hired by the police department has recommended changes in policy and procedures by internal investigators to bring swifter action on egregious cases of misconduct.
Mayor Sarno has proposed adding “teeth” to a civilian board that hears complaints about police officers by giving it subpoena power.