Springfield Police Department Removed from Castro v. Beecher Consent Decree

Springfield, Mass. — The Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office notified Springfield Police Superintendent Cheryl Clapprood today (Monday) that U.S. District Court Judge Patti B. Saris on Friday removed the Springfield Police Department from the 1972 Castro v. Beecher Federal Consent Decree.

The Consent Decree took effect in 1975 and directed human resource departments in more than 100 cities and towns in Massachusetts to follow hiring ratios intended to prioritize Black and Hispanic candidates for police and fire departments.

The state’s Human Resources Division, represented by the Attorney General’s Office, asked the federal court to begin to phase out the consent decree in the remaining municipalities by the end of 2024.  Departments have been released from the decree when their percentages of Black and Hispanic officers reached “rough parity” with the demographics of their own communities.

The Springfield Police Department has been well beyond parity for several years.  Off the 400 sworn patrol officers, 58% are Asian, Black or Hispanic.  54% of the entire sworn staff of the Springfield Police Department is Asian, Black or Hispanic.  Castro v. Beecher refers only to patrol officers.

“Our police department for years has mirrored the demographics of our city.  Thanks to our human resources manager, we have taken the right steps in hiring to lead us beyond parity.  Each year it becomes more and more difficult to recruit police officers and the screening is more complex than ever with background checks, physical fitness tests and civil service exams.  Being removed from this consent decree is not going to impact the inclusivity of our hiring process; the recent trends show that our diversity levels will only grow stronger,” said Springfield Police Superintendent Cheryl Clapprood.

Mayor Domenic J. Sarno states, “I am proud of my administration’s efforts to bring both our Springfield Fire and Police Departments to above parity within their respective ranks, including notable supervisory/leadership promotions too.  Both our Springfield Fire Department (SFD) and Springfield Police Department (SPD) have risen above the state required parity and through my administrations contractually negotiated residency requirements.  Fire Commissioner BJ Calvi, Police Superintendent Cheryl Clapprood and I am proud that both our SFD and SPD are reflective of our community and the residents and businesses in which they serve.  Police Superintendent Cheryl Clapprood and I were happy to see that the court has recognized the tremendous strides the city of Springfield Police Department has made by achieving higher then what the parity goals stated.  Additionally, both SFD and SPD have had diverse academy classes for firefighters and police officers respectively.  The most recent Springfield Police academy graduated 31 new recruits where approximately two-thirds of the newly hired officers were Asian, Black and/or Hispanic, including nine female officers in the class too.”

“I am pleased that the court has now released both our Springfield Police Department and Springfield Fire Department from the 1970’s consent decree and look forward to continuing to move our City of Springfield forward for the betterment of all our residents and business community,” Mayor Sarno continued.

City Solicitor Judge John Payne stated, “The Springfield Police Department as well as the Springfield Fire Department continue to adhere to the established good and best hiring practices under the state civil service requirements and as a result both departments have reached the state required parity levels to warrant the removal of both the Springfield Fire and Police Departments from the 1972 Castro v. Beecher Federal Consent Decree.”

On June 29th, Judge Saris removed the Springfield Fire Department from the same decree.

Several lawsuits alleged discriminatory hiring practices in Boston in the early 1970’s which led to this historic decree.