Springfield Police Chief Paul Williams released the department’s 2019 Annual Report Tuesday during the lunch meeting of the Springfield City Council.
Williams highlighted several parts of the report to the Council, explaining the statistics both from the year itself and looking at a 5-year view of crime within the city.
“Overall, all part one crimes, which is the seven major crimes we normally refer to…were pretty much even compared to the last five years,” Williams told Council.
Williams did note to council that while property crimes were generally in line with averages, crimes against people showed a significant increase in 2019.
Williams said that while homicides were in line with the last few years, there was an increase in sexual assault which he attributed to a number of reasons.
“One, increased emphasis in education and reporting,” Williams told Council. “Two, we do a really good job of communicating to our community that we want to help people, we want to investigate those crimes.”
Williams said over 50 people came forward last year above the average for sexual assault crimes and that he expects that number to rise as people become more comfortable reporting those crimes to law enforcement.
Williams noted a 400 incident increase in aggravated assaults which he termed an “astronomical increase.” He noted that aggravated assaults with a firearm has doubled in the last five years.
Williams said research found two major reasons for the increase. First, in 2016, the law changed on concealed weapons to where people are no longer required to have a license to carry one.
“That results in a number of things,” Williams said. “One, people who would not have been allowed to carry are certainly carrying, and there are a lot of people who never would have thought about it before who now are carrying a gun.”
The second part Williams stated was that more people are now addressing personal disputes with a firearm.
Williams said that the increase has not led to more homicides or people being injured by guns, but it does create more victims. He cited an example of two people engaged in a dispute. One person goes to leave the scene, but as they’re driving away they pull out a gun and shoot at the house they had been in for the initial incident. Instead of just having two people involved, now the incident had nine victims because eight people were in the area when the shooting took place.
The 2019 annual report showed the department had almost 130,000 calls for service during the year and filed over 54,000 reports. The average response time for a priority one incident was 6.4 minutes, and the department made 8,745 arrests.
Items highlighted in the report that were not crime data related included the September launch of the department’s partnership with Springfield Public Schools for officers to engage in fitness activities with middle school students during PE classes, reaccreditation by the Commission of Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies in November.
Here is the full report:SPDAnnualReport19_FINALWEB_202004071007482695