Springfield police to hold 'use of force' meetings - CBS 3 Springfield - WSHM

Springfield police to hold 'use of force' meetings

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SPRINGFIELD, MA (WSHM) -

They vow to serve and protect, and now, Springfield police want residents to get an inside look at the challenges they face every time they wear the badge.

"We're going to give the residents a better understanding of why police officers deal with certain people who become volatile," said Officer Charlie Youmans, Springfield's community police advocate.

Youmans will be walking residents through the lawful amount of force officers are expected to use through a series of workshops in the coming weeks.

Youmans says some techniques, such as pepper spray and use of the baton, may seem violent and severe to onlookers but in some instances could mean life or death for the officers responding.

"I am going to take them through the levels of force that we are taught from recruitment all the way to veteran police officers," said Youmans.

The community meetings come in the wake of the conviction of former Springfield police Officer Jeffrey Asher, convicted of assault and battery charges on Melvin Jones of Springfield.  

Asher was not only fired but is serving 18 months in prison.

The police brutality case outraged the community, but Youmans says that's why it's necessary that residents learn the line between necessary force and brutality.

"By having these forums and them basically having more of an understanding of what they have to go through, I think they can see now what these police officers are up against every day that they're out here," said Youmans.

By bridging the divide between police and some residents, Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno believes that it will only lead to a safer city.

"It's a partnership, for us to continue to make our city safe, clean and prosperous, we need to work together as a team," said Sarno.

Here is the full list of upcoming meetings:

-Tuesday, April 17, at the Rebecca Johnson School - Catharine Street

-Tuesday, May 1, at Christian Life Center -1590 Sumner Ave.

-Thursday, May 10, at the Pynchon Apts. Edgewater Community Room - 101 Lowell St.

-Tuesday, May 15, at The Greenleaf Community Center - 1188 Parker St.

All sessions begin at 5:30 p.m.

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