City, community leaders grapple with gun violence in Springfield
A group of Springfield city officials as well as faith and community leaders met this week to discuss ways to curb an up-tick in gun violence in the city.
One common theme discussed by the group of more than 20 on Tuesday was finding ways to keep repeat violent offenders off the streets. Many, including City Councilor Lavar Click-Bruce said judges are too lenient in releasing those awaiting trial on serious crimes.
"We make the plea to the judges again, to hold those accountable who are repeat offenders," Click-Bruce said. "We're not talking about the small crime, but the repeat offenders we must hold accountable,".
That's something Mayor Domenic J. Sarno and Police Superintendent Cheryl Clapprood have been preaching for quite a while. Sarno said the last four people arrested in connection with city homicides were subject to court ordered GPS monitoring.
“Some who cut them off [the monitoring devices] and were given another bracelet or monitor,” Sarno said. “How do you explain that to a family member? You can’t.”
Sarno also said another idea is to discuss the situation and complaints about judges with members of the Governor’s Council, which confirms judicial nominees across the state.
Other possibilities to try and stop the violence that came up included police sweeps of troublesome neighborhoods and making people more aware of community services, mental health services and re-entry programs for those recently leaving prison.
Sarno said he’d see if city funding could be expanded to certain programs in order to help with the outreach effort.
State Attorney General calls gun violence “unacceptable”
On Wednesday, during an open house at her western Massachusetts office, Attorney General Andrea Campbell addressed the situation in Springfield.
She said the fact young people are dying as a result is unacceptable. She had a specific focus on what to do to curb gun violence in Springfield and elsewhere.
"There's a lot we can do from our office space, which we are doing to take guns off the street, including ghost guns, legislative solutions to help with ghost guns and establishing a gun violence prevention unit," she said.
Ghost guns are untraceable firearms that don't have serial numbers.
As for the notion judges aren’t holding repeat violent offenders enough, Campbell said she believes people need to be held accountable for their actions. But she said dealing with mental health and substance abuse issues should not be “criminalized.” She said there not only needs to be a public safety response to the rash of violence, but also a public health one too.
“I believe in both of these, I think they go hand-in hand,” Campbell said.
Campbell took office earlier this year after winning election in 2022.