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Using data tracking, Springfield police identify four city crime ‘hotspots’

Springfield Police Chief Paul Williams
City of Springfield screenshot
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Springfield Police Chief Paul Williams presents a monthly update to City Council on Aug. 22, 2022

Can big data promote public safety? Springfield Police Chief Paul Williams is betting that the answer is yes, as shown by his most recent monthly update to City Council. Here's more on how police are identifying crime hotspots around Springfield.

It’s called DDACTS, and it’s endorsed by the U.S. Department of Justice and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

This operational model for policing was recently adopted in Springfield, though according to the National Law Enforcement Liaison Program, DDACTS pilot sites were launched in 2009.

“I mentioned back in June we had just launched the DDACTS program, that’s the Data-Driven Approaches to Crime and Traffic Safety,” Springfield Police Chief Paul Williams told City Council this week.

DDACTS uses geo-mapping data to pinpoint higher areas of crime and traffic crashes. Police then increase their presence in those areas. Williams said Springfield police are zeroing in on three types of data.

“We’re tracking the crimes reported, the crashes and the stops," he told Council. "So if you have more traffic stops, using the DDACTS philosophy, you should have less crashes and less crimes. If you have less stops, then you're probably going to see more crimes and more crashes.”

As they launched DDACTS, Springfield police decided to focus on patrolling four hotspots that were “identified for criminal activity.”

All four hotspots center on major city street intersections:

  • Kearney Street and Kansas Expressway
  • Kearney Street and Glenstone Avenue
  • Sunshine Street and Kansas Expressway
  • Sunshine Street and Glenstone Avenue
Aug 2022 Crime Hotspot graphic
City of Springfield screenshot
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A Springfield Police Department graphic shows four "'hotspots' identified for criminal activity" where Springfield police will increase their presence.

Springfield police have used DDACTS since early June, Williams said. The data he presented to Council on Monday night showed that at two of the four intersections, police stopped more cars and found fewer crimes in July than they did in June.

Councilman Abe McGull told the police chief he appreciated stepped-up traffic enforcement. He also asked about how often traffic stops are linked to criminal actions.

“I’d like to know the numbers that would lead to I guess other criminal activity," McGull said. "I know you don’t have that data yet, but say you stop someone for a tag and then all of a sudden it develops into another criminal activity.”

Williams replied by saying Springfield police will track every traffic stop.

“We’ll be able to pull that out at some point. You know, we track every traffic stop to comply with the state law on racial profiling, traffic stop data collection. So, and the results of those stops are tracked, if there’s a ticket, if there’s an arrest.”

Following the Council meeting, a police spokesperson told KSMU there’s no extra dollar cost associated with implementing DDACTS.

Gregory Holman is a KSMU reporter and editor focusing on public affairs and investigations.