Being an urban location, the city of Springfield does have its rough neighborhoods. Children grow up knowing how to protect themselves, get into more than one scuffle in junior high, and encounter the onslaught of illegalities that every modern teen must decide upon once entering high school. The crime rate is nothing to be gawked at, and everyone knows to lock their car doors and roll up their windows when driving or parking on the street for a night out. But who would have guessed that West Springfield, the town that was voted into a city just 12 short years ago, would have something in common with its more populous counterpart?
The Springfield police have had many members come into question for charges of police brutality, and now a veteran police officer from the West Springfield force is facing the same situation: Captain Daniel O’Brien is currently facing allegations of police brutality and civil rights violations in relation to a woman he took into custody in the fall. O’Brien was placed on administrative leave with pay last month, pending completion of the investigation.
Mayor Gregory C. Neffinger confirmed that the case is currently under investigation by both the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Hampden District Attorney’s Office at this time. The West Springfield Police Department is holding off on conducting its own probe into the matter, so as not to compromise the current investigations, according to Neffinger. “Any information that is given to us freely could then be made inadmissible as evidence in their investigation,” he said. This is because a witness could change their mind on what they are willing to state and use the Fifth Amendment plea when speaking to the other departments, he clarified.
When asked about his policy on handling police brutality, Neffinger declined to answer. “I do not want to look like I have made a judgment on this case one way or the other,” he said. He did not have any further information about the status of the case, and stated that he and the Police Department were told not to investigate at this time, and he was doing just that.
Hampden District Attorney Mark G. Mastroianni is currently handling the probe, and has released little information to the public as to the status.
O’Brien was recently promoted from the rank of sergeant to captain in March of 2011, along with Thomas A. Wilkinson. He has been a veteran of the police force for roughly 24 years, since he began as officer in 1988.