SPRINGFIELD (CBS) – After years of complaints of excessive force, the Springfield Police Department is promising changes.

Since April 2018, federal prosecutors have been investigating the police department’s narcotics bureau for misconduct and excessive force. Under a new agreement, the officers will be required to report all uses of force and will be required to intervene if they see officers using excessive force.

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In a 2020 report, the Justice Department said the bureau violated the Fourth Amendment, which protects the public from the unreasonable use of force by the police.

The Justice Department’s 28-page report said, “our investigation identified evidence that Narcotics Bureau officers repeatedly punch individuals in the face unnecessarily, in part because they escalate encounters with civilians too quickly, and resort to unreasonable takedown maneuvers that, like head strikes, could reasonably be expected to cause head injuries.”

Department of Justice Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke said changes and improvements would take time.

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“Real and lasting change will not happen fast,” Clarke said. “Institutional reform is complex and requires unflagging diligence and persistence. Implementing the requirements of this decree in a way that is truly durable will take years, not months.”

A federal judge still needs to sign off on the agreement.

Springfield Police Superintendent Cheryl Clapprood said the department has already instituted some reforms, including software to identify trends in conduct, body cameras for officers and modernization of the department’s Use-Of-Force policies.

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“I recognize the responsibility we have to address past issues within our department, and I thank everyone for their work to institute meaningful change that will create a better, more modern Springfield Police Department,” said Claprood.

CBSBoston.com Staff