SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) According to the Springfield Police Department’s annual crime report, overall crimes rose 12% last year over 2018.
According to Police Chief Paul Williams, Springfield’s crime rates had been creeping up for several years, before dropping significantly in 2018. That changed last year when every type of crime saw an increase. The only exception was homicides.
“I think the most accurate depiction of how dangerous or how violent a community is is the number of homicides,” Williams said.
There were 12 homicides in Springfield last year, four fewer than in 2018, but every other crime saw an increase over the year before.
“We’re still lower than we were two years ago, three years ago, four years ago, but we’re higher than we were last year,” Williams said.
Aggravated assaults rose by a staggering 20%. Robberies went up 8%. Rapes rose by nearly 7%. However, the number of times department closed rape cases dropped dramatically, by about 15%. Williams said he doesn’t have an explanation for that yet, but will once the department’s detailed rape report analysis is finished.
“Being able to solve those cases is our job,” Williams said. “That’s disappointing and disheartening for us that we can’t do that more often.”
Property crimes were also up. Stolen vehicles and thefts increased by 11%. Williams said nearly four out of every 10 vehicles stolen in Springfield have the keys left inside.
The amount of money lost during thefts out of vehicles increased by about $600,000. Williams said people can protect themselves from becoming a victim of crimes like these, but many just don’t.
“Make sure your stuff’s secure. It’s less likely to be stolen in the first place,” he said.
Williams said it’s going to take teamwork to bring the numbers back down.
“Preventing crime is not the sole job of the police,” he said.
Shanyn Wehde, a Springfield resident, agrees.
“It takes a village. Police and law enforcement can only do so much. They need our help,” Wehde said.
That’s why she started a Facebook group designed to keep up with crime.
“A lot of the criminal activity floats from neighborhood to neighborhood,” she said.
Both Wehde and Williams said people in Springfield need to look out for one another.
“There’s 360 police officers but there’s 170,000 people in town. If we’re all working together to kind of prevent some of these things, the numbers should go down,” Williams said.
For a further breakdown of the annual crime report, click HERE.
This is the last annual crime comparison Springfield police will put out for another year or two, as SPD and other local departments are transitioning how they track it.
SPD, Nixa PD, Republic PD and the Greene County Sheriff’s Office will now use the National Incident-Based Crime Reporting System (NIBRS), which tracks 52 crimes and reports every crime committed in a given instance.
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