Mason Square native Sgt. Reggie Miller is policing a changed city

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The Springfield that Sgt. Reggie Miller grew up in is far different from the one he patrols now, as the leader of the Springfield Police Department’s new community policing unit in Forest Park.

The son of a truck driver and a medical assistant, Miller grew up in Mason Square during the 1970s and 1980s – a time, he said, that lacked much of the tension between police and residents that his community police unit is currently trying to resolve.

“Cops would talk to us then, but it was friendly,” Miller said. “Back then if you did something wrong, the cops would bring you home and you didn’t want that. I know I never wanted that.”

Amid tension, a community police squad in Springfield’s Forest Park works to build trust

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Officer Dan Billingsley did not want to be known as the guy who picked up the snow cone machine.

Standing by the basketball courts at Springfield’s Johnny Appleseed Park on a warm July evening, Billingsley conferred in hushed tones with his commanding officer, Sgt. Reggie Miller. Miller, the leader of a newly-formed community policing unit tasked with reducing crime in a volatile section of Forest Park, had scraped together department funds to buy the snow cone maker after a rented one proved a hit at the unit’s last-day-of-school event in June.

Children who might otherwise have been skeptical of talking to police crowded around the officers, learning their names and building what Miller describes as the trust necessary to stop gang activity and violent crime. That reasoning, however, was not likely to play well in department roll call. Billingsley, assigned to get the machine from a Best Buy outside city lines, was seeking permission to call in his errand on his cell phone rather than the general police radio, where listening officers could put him in line for some serious ribbing.

Infographic: How has C3 Policing affected crime in Springfield’s North End?

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Michelle Williams | Michelle.Williams@MassLive.com By Michelle Williams | Michelle.Williams@MassLive.com on August 16, 2015 at 6:00 AM, updated August 16, 2015 at 6:01 AM SPRINGFIELD — When gang violence spiked six years ago in the North End, community leaders and city officials demanded to see less violence in their neighborhoods. Massachusetts State Troopers Michael Cutone and Thomas Sarrouf…

Springfield Police Department setting up summer wiffle ball league for kids

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SPRINGFIELD — Calling all wiffle ballers! The Springfield Police Department’s C3 Community Policing units, along with the Springfield Police Youth Athletic Association, is starting a summer wiiffle ball league for boys and girls ages 8 to 16. http://www.masslive.com/news/index.ssf/2015/07/springfield_police_department_23.html

District attorney, state politicians go on listening tour though Springfield neighborhoods

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Hampden District Attorney Anthony Gulluni on Friday led state politicians on a tour through parts of the city to hear from residents and business owners about the impact of crime and what legislation in Beacon Hill could do to address it. http://www.masslive.com/news/index.ssf/2015/06/da_anthony_gulluni_state_pols.html