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Sarno unloads strategies for a safer city

On Oct. 11 mayoral candidate Dominic Sarno hosted a press conference where he announced his strategies for the City of Springfield.Reminder Publications photo by G. Michael Dobbs
By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

SPRINGFIELD If elected mayor, Domenic Sarno said he would take a four-point position on reducing crime in the city.

And if Police Commissioner Edward Flynn leaves for a new job, Deputy Chief William Fitchet might be in line for a promotion.

Sarno released a position paper on policing in the city at a Thursday press conference. He said it would be the first in a series of strategies he has for the city.

Sarno said that he would hire 50 additional police officers at a cost of $2.8 to $3.2 million annually. Currently the city has allocated $2.6 million he said to pay for overtime, a situation which he claimed is causing burnout among the city's police. When asked how he would fund the additional officers, Sarno said a safer city would help bring back businesses and residents which would add to the city's coffers.

The candidate would also beef up programs that provide youth with alternative activities to gangs by using funding from the state's Shannon Grant and federal Community Development Block Grants.

He would create a "quality of life flex squad" that would address issues the police currently cannot. He said it would be an inter-departmental effort that would include the police, code enforcement, public works and park personnel.

Sarno would also bring back the Police Commission as the body that would have oversight and control over the Department. He criticized the creation of the Civilian Review Board as being "toothless."

"The Police Commission would have teeth," he said.

In his position paper, Sarno promised that as mayor he would require the police commissioner to develop a five-year plan for the department's goals within 90 days of his taking office. He added he would meet with the police commissioner every morning to go over the previous day's events.

Sarno also detailed in his paper "unity of command must be restored to the recently reorganized command structure of the Springfield Police Department."

"Police commanders cannot effectively manage the territories they are held accountable for when they have not been delegated the authority to deploy patrol officers and specialized units in their neighborhoods. Ultimately, the residents of those neighborhoods are being cheated in this 'shell game,'" he wrote.

Sarno took Flynn to task for how the department reports crime.

"The commissioner's claim about sharp drops in crime is not accurate," Sarno wrote. "For example, a criminal incident results in a home invasion, a robbery and a murder. Under the previous reporting methods each of these three violent crimes would be reported. According to the Springfield Police Department's new practice, only the murder is reported resulting in two less violent crimes reported as occurring in the city of Springfield."

Reacting to the recent announcements about additional surveillance cameras and a shot-detection system, Sarno said, "I'm not big on the sci-fi stuff." He added he wants "boots on the street."

With the announcement that Flynn is a finalist for the chief's job in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Sarno said, "I want people who are committed to the city of Springfield. If he wants to be elsewhere, let him go."

He said he was not surprised by the revelation.

"Now we know where his true colors are," he said.

He said Deputy Chief Fitchet has impressed him when he had been the acting chief.