- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 19, 2014

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (AP) - A Springfield native and longtime member of the department was appointed Wednesday as the city’s new police commissioner.

Deputy Chief John Barbieri was selected by Mayor Domenic Sarno during a process that had come under scrutiny by some civic leaders who said it wasn’t transparent enough and didn’t consider outside candidates.

Only the department’s three current deputy chiefs were interviewed by Sarno and a panel during a series of closed-door meetings. The appointment is not subject to outside approval.

Barbieri, 51, takes over from Commissioner William Fitchet, who has announced that he will retire May 31.

“Commissioner John Barbieri is a progressive and innovative leader who has the command and respect of the department. More importantly, he understands and respects the mosaic and fabric of the people of Springfield,” Sarno said in a statement.

Barbieri impressed with his plans for fighting crime in the state’s third-largest city.

“Commissioner Barbieri’s vision and timelines for more proactive patrols and real-time crime response demonstrated his level of expertise in furthering our fight against urban crime,” Sarno said.

Barbieri joined the department in 1988 after graduating first in his academy class and was appointed deputy chief in 2009.

“I am humbled and honored to have Mayor Sarno’s confidence,” he said. “I am excited for the opportunity to implement a public safety plan that reflects the mayor’s vision for the city of Springfield.”

He talked of instituting “progressive, incremental change” in the department.

Earlier this week, leaders of the Greater Springfield NAACP, the Council of Churches of Western Massachusetts, and Arise for Social Justice said in a joint statement that the process should have had more public input, and expressed concern about one candidate’s alleged history of insensitivity toward minorities and women. That candidate, who was not selected, denied the allegations.

Barbieri is a graduate of Springfield Technical High School, and has degrees from Springfield Technical Community College, Anna Maria College and Western New England University.

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