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New England NAACP chapters condemn Springfield police for removing chaplain

Springfield police have denied that the move was improper.
Springfield police have denied that the move was improper.Matthew Cavanaugh/for the Boston Globe/file

NAACP chapters throughout New England on Monday condemned Springfield police for removing Bishop Talbert W. Swan II as a chaplain for the department, arguing that the move was a response to Swan’s criticism of the department.

The Springfield Police Department has been under scrutiny since a US Department of Justice investigation released in July found narcotics officers used excessive force, needlessly escalated encounters with civilians, and routinely provide misleading or false arrest reports to cover up misconduct.

Swan, president of the Greater Springfield NAACP and a chaplain for the police department for the last 10 years, had repeatedly called for the police commissioner to step down before the department removed Swan from his post.

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“His termination signals to communities of color that the police are willing to use unlawful measures to maintain power and control over the narrative around policing,” the NAACP chapters said in a statement by the organization’s New England Area Conference, which includes 34 branches and youth units.

The statement continued: “Both Bishop Swan and the Springfield community will now suffer the negative consequences of the suppression of his speech on the issues of badly-needed police reform in Springfield should the termination remain effective.”

Springfield police did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday night. Last week, Ryan Walsh, a department spokesman, said Swan is one of three chaplains leaving the department, and he denied that his removal was out of retaliation.

Laura Crimaldi of the Globe Staff contributed to this report.


Nick Stoico can be reached at nick.stoico@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @NickStoico.