Springfield officials say the city is about to be bolstered by Massachusetts state police patrols to help combat gun-related violence.
Mayor Domenic Sarno has formally requested the assistance of a specialized state police unit called CAT or Community Action Team. Sarno spokesperson James Leydon says the request is in response to multiple shootings, an armed robbery and a stabbing in just the past few days – though none of the incidents have resulted in fatalities.
Leydon says the mayor wants to deploy the CAT team in certain neighborhoods like Mason Square and lower Forest Park, as well as the entertainment district downtown, especially during late night hours.
“A lot of these are hot-spot areas. A lot seem to be either domestic-related or drug and gang-related. It’s not widespread; it’s not all over the city,” Leydon said. “But it’s, you know, it’s giving us a bad rap, and he really wants to deploy all resources that are available to try to suppress it.”
The added patrols are being paid for through a $100,000 appropriation from the state legislature. Springfield Police spokesperson Sergeant John Delaney says the CAT team has helped patrol the city in past years, and the plan to have them again has long been in the works. And Delaney stresses that for a city its size, Springfield is still safe to live and visit.
“When we look at our statistics over the last year, you know, crime is down in Springfield. But when you watch the news, people have the perception that crime is up because there’s a shooting here, there’s a shooting there,” Delaney said.
Delaney says Police Commissioner William Fitchett is scheduled to meet Tuesday with State Police officials to coordinate deploying the CAT team in Springfield, who could be on patrol as early as this weekend.