Springfield City manager recommends changes after discussions with NAACP

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Springfield City Manager Jason Gage proposed changes to the Springfield City Council after demands from the local NAACP on Monday night, Oct. 20, 2020, according to a press release from the City.

The three demands made were banning vascular neck restraints/chokeholds or any form of neck restraints, reducing traffic stop disparity index and certain reforms to the Police Civilian Review Board, according to the press release.

Gage, NAACP Chapter President Toni Robinson, Chapter Vice President Adrienne Ewell and former Chapter President Cheryl Clay discussed each of the demands and issues made by the NAACP. Springfield Police Chief Paul Williams also had similar meetings.

After discussions it was recommended to the Springfield City Council that lateral vascular neck restraints be banned (LVNR), reducing traffic stop disparity rate and certain changes to the Police Civilian Review Board.

The press release states that while SPD doesn’t allow chokeholds it does use the LVNR technique. The primary concern with the technique is when it is used improperly. SPD has used the LVNR technique between six and 36 times a year.

It was also recommended for the City and SPD to work closely with the NAACP and others to understand why the traffic disparity rate has been under three for African Americans. Right now Springfield has a disparity index of 2.71 while Missouri’s is 1.78.

“We hire officers who care about protecting this community. Yet, we have found the disparity ratio has been high for many years, regardless of personnel shifting to different beats. As a result, a significant focus of our review is focusing closely on possible systemic impacts. This means that regardless of officer assignment, certain strategies and protocols to policing may be inadvertently having a disproportionate impact,” Gage said.

To understand and reduce the disparity index rate The City has contracted with Dr. Mike Stout with Oklahoma State University.

For the Police Civilian Review Board, the primary concerns are with the selection requirements and process. Gage recommended to the Springfield City Council that all applications be forwarded to the City Council for consideration. Plus that applicants don’t need to complete the Citizens Police REview Academy prior to being selected for the Board anymore.

It was also recommended for staff members to be from two to three years and to expand the number of Board seats from five to seven.

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