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Culture

Springfield's Police Chief Discusses the Latest Uniform Crime Report: Total Crime is Down, Thefts

http://ozarkspub.vo.llnwd.net/o37/KSMU/audio/mp3/springfield-s-police-chief-discusses-latest-uniform-crime-report-total-crime-down-thefts-vehicles-ar_33730.mp3

The Springfield Police Department’s 2011 Uniform Crime Report has been completed. The city saw a very slight decrease in crimes against persons and a 5 percent decline in crimes against property. But as KSMU’s Samuel Crowe reports, one crime continues to be a problem in the city.

Springfield Police Chief Paul Williams’ 2011 “Lock It to Stop It” campaign was designed to remind the people to lock their vehicles and keep valuables out of plain sight. With an increase in thefts from vehicles over the past few years, he says the jury is still out on whether or not the campaign has been successful.

“Theft from vehicles has continued to be our number one crime problem. It keeps going up. Part of that’s, I think, cultural. It’s the Ozarks, it’s a family friendly, it’s fun, it’s a great place to raise a family and people feel safe here. It is a safe community. But unfortunately, bad people take advantage of that,” Williams said.

Williams says it’s up to citizens to do what they can to prevent thefts from cars and trucks; the police can’t afford to exhaust their resources investigating these kinds of crimes.

“Unfortunately we do have to, I hate to use the term, but triage cases just like they do in medicine. What can we direct our resources to? That is A, more serious crime, and B, those of a solvability factor that we can actually have an impact on, instead of those hundreds of suspect list, evidence list cases that seem to pile up,” Williams said.

According to Williams, the crime analysis unit helps determine how to direct the police department’s efforts and resources. The data from the uniform crime report allows patrol officers to focus their resources where they need to be. Williams says that two years ago, the city suffered from a large number of aggravated assaults in the downtown area, as well as North Glenstone avenue, near a string of hotels. Two years later, aggravated assaults have gone down 26 percent.

“We’re using crime intelligence to do a better job of combating crime, and we’re even starting to move into predictive analysis where, based on trends and what we’ve seen in the past, where do we think things might occur this week, this month, today. Then all that information all flows out to patrol, and lets those commanders, those supervisors, deploy their resources where they need to on a given night,” Williams said.

Fifty more police officers have been added to the department in the past two years, an increase Williams says has helped cut down on crime. But he says it’s effective communication with citizens, what he calls community-based policing, that has had the biggest impact on property crimes. For KSMU News, I’m Samuel Crowe.