New England News
12:20 pm
Tue July 30, 2013

Springfield Mayor Seeks State Police Help As Gun Violence Flares

More Massachusetts state troopers will be deployed to Springfield in response to an uptick in gun violence this summer. Funding was previously approved by the Massachusetts legislature

Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno
Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno
Credit City of Springfield

Members of the Massachusetts State Police Community Action Team will be assigned to Springfield following a personal appeal Monday, in writing and on the telephone, to the head of the state police from Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno.

In the last five days there were four separate shootings and a stabbing in Springfield. Monday night, Springfield police shot and seriously wounded a man after they said he attacked two officers with an axe. A police spokesman said the officers did not require hospitalization.

Sarno said the violence is not random. He said the shootings were all drug or gang related.

Funding for the additional state police assigned to Springfield was appropriated earlier this month by the state legislature in a supplemental budget.

A Community Action Team was assigned to Springfield last August after a surge in violence that included a man being fatally shot during a home invasion.

The assignments for the state troopers deployed to Springfield will be worked out between the state police commanders and the Springfield Police Commissioner’s Office, but the mayor said in his letter to State Police Col. Timothy Alben  he looked for an increased police presence in the Forest Park and Mason Square neighborhoods and the downtown entertainment district.

Sarno said he has ordered a review of the public safety plans nightclubs are required to implement in order to hold entertainment licenses.

Earlier this month, a Springfield bar agreed to a voluntary suspension of its liquor license after a man was shot and killed during a fight on the outdoor patio at the bar.

In an interview, Sarno, who has made public safety a top issue during his three terms as mayor, including the city’s ongoing bid for a casino,said the spike in violence was “disheartening.”  He noted the number of anti-crime initiatives the city has previously undertaken.

Last month, Sarno announced an agreement with the Springfield Parking Authority to pay for increased  police  presence downtown.  Springfield Police Commissioner William Fitchet said at the time it would mean more foot and bicycle patrols as well as prostitution stings, traffic enforcement, and random checks for liquor license violations.

The surge in violence in Springfield comes as the Massachusetts Legislature’s Joint Committee on Public Safety is scheduled to a hold a public hearing in the city on gun legislation Friday at American International College.

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