SPRINGFIELD – The same innovative strategy to engage a neighborhood in order to address crime is being expanded to three other neighborhoods.
Mayor Domenic Sarno and Police Commissioner John Barbieri announced the completion of training of a hand-selected group of officers who recently finished six weeks of training for the assignment at a press event on March 23.
The initiative known as C3 stands for “counter crime continuum” and was first implemented in one North End in 2009. It is based on techniques used by the American military in the Middle East to build trust and to deal with issues before they before problems.
Introduced to Springfield by State Trooper Michael Cutone who worked with then Deputy Chief Barbieri on its implementation, the program and its success was the subject of a report on CBS’s “60 Minutes.”
Barbieri said Springfield was the first city in the nation to implement the program, which has now spread to communities across the country.
“It’s a homegrown model, but it works,” he said.
The program will be expanding in the North End and be present in Mason Square, the Hollywood section of the South End and part of Forest Park. The targeted neighborhoods represent only 3 percent of the city’s addresses, but 12 percent of its 911 calls.
Barbieri said the program is beginning now.
He explained the basis with the program is communication with the residents and businesses, identifying issues and problems and collaborating with various social service agencies to assist people.
He said 20 percent of police activities relate to crime and disorder while 80 percent is about quality of life.
“This is not a police initiative. It’s a community initiative,” the commissioner said.
Barbieri also stressed that despite its roots in the military, the C3 program is “about community building and collaboration.”
The C3 officers will be meeting weekly in each sector with residents and partnering organizations, Barbieri explained. He added that through his experience in the North End, “people wanted change.”
There will be a supervising sergeant and five officers who will work in different day off groups on the 4 p.m. to midnight shift in each area. The Uniformed Division supervisors and patrol officers regularly assigned to the selected areas on all shifts will support the initiative. Capt. Cheryl Clapprood will serve as commanding officer of the C-3 Policing Initiative along with: North End, Sgt. Julio Toledo, South End, Sgt. Brian Beliveau, Forest Park, Sgt. Reggie Miller and Mason Square, Sgt. Devon Williams.
Sarno stated, “I applaud Police Commissioner John Barbieri for implementing this innovation approach that not only attacks the root causes of crime but is designed to engage the community at a grass roots level and bring an umbrella of agencies, residents and families to the table and be part of the solution.”
Barbieri is also working to institute HUB, a computer model that measures risks to better predict where to allocate police resources. His goal is to have that initiative operational before summer.
Jose Claudio of the North End Citizens Council has been involved in the program since its beginning and recalled how dangerous the North End had become in 2009.
“I was tired of seeing young people getting shot. I was tired of mothers crying for the loss of a son,” he said.
He said that he had been accused of being a “snitch” or a “rat,” but in his mind a “rat” stood for “responsible adult talking.”
He said one clear indication the C3 program has made a difference is the number of housing starts in the North End and their sale. People want to live in the neighborhood again, he said.
“That’s the difference,” Claudio added.