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League of Women Voters of Springfield to hold series of public forums on police accountability

SPRINGFIELD – The League of Women Voters of Springfield will host a trio of public forums on police accountability in February.

Entitled “Who’s Policing the Police?’ the series of community discussions will take place Feb. 20 through Feb. 24 at a local library, community center and the Springfield Armory.

“Springfield has wrestled with this issue for decades, as have other cities around the country,” Linda Matys O’Connell, organizer of the forums, said in a statement. “After the recent series of high-profile allegations of police misconduct ignited public outrage, the league began to consider the city’s options.”

The League of Women Voters of Springfield is a political activism and public policy network that was reinvigorated in this city in recent years.

The statement on the forums notes that a Community Police Hearing Board reviews citizens’ complaints and internal matters and recommends discipline to Police Commissioner John Barbieri. The commissioner has the final say on police discipline, however.

In its announcement, Matys O’Connell said members of the group’s committee on police accountability has done extensive research on methods of civilian oversight across the country and have developed a report for discussion.

“Citizens’ oversight provides a necessary place to voice concerns outside of the police department so the community at large can be reassured that appropriate actions are taken to discipline police officers,” said league member David Rudder, associate dean of Springfield College’s School of Professional and Continuing studies.

Rudder also leads the group’s committee on police accountability.

The dates, times and venues for the forums are:

– Feb. 20 at the Brightwood Library Branch, 5:30 to 8 p.m.

– Feb. 22 at the Indian Orchard Community Center, 5:30 to 8 p.m.

– Feb. 24 at the Springfield Armory, 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The forums are free and members of the public are encouraged to attend. Those who would like to sign up to participate…

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