Police say neighborhoods forming watch groups that can report crime to officers patrolling the streets is a great way to help cut down on the crime some neighborhoods have seen in recent weeks.

Springfield residents fed up with crime, ready to fight back

Fights in the streets, shots fired into homes and people injured by gunfire has some residents in the Madison Avenue neighborhood worried but ready to help police stop future crimes.

A shooting and a large street fight with multiple shots fired on Madison Street last week along with a double shooting on nearby Cassilly Street in the past month has residents fed up.

“We have stuff to do, we have our daily lives and we can’t be worrying about who’s going to get shot just going outside,” said Paige Scott, 25, who lives on Elm Street with her children just steps away from where the crimes have happened.

Scott said other parents and residents in the area have discussed starting a neighborhood watch group, something Springfield police said could be invaluable to curb crime.

“(A Springfield police) officer, unless they live on that block, is never going to know that neighborhood the way a person that lives on that block knows that neighborhood,” said Capt. Lee Graf, commander of the uniform patrol division.

Officers step up patrols in problem areas, Graf said, and have focused on the Madison Avenue neighborhood in the past weeks.

But in terms of preventing future crimes, he said residents working alongside police works best.

“When you look at neighborhood safety, when you look at solving a lot of crimes — that’s the missing component, that partnership between police and citizens,” Graf said.

With cell phone technology today, he said neighborhood groups should focus on safely getting pictures of suspicious things that happen in their streets.

If a fight is going on, someone can snap a picture from their windows of the people involved or take a photo of cars or people that might have fired guns, he said.

Violent crime in Springfield hit a 14-year high last year with more than 50 people injured by gunfire, statistics from the Springfield Police Division show.

Police handled more than 730 calls for shots fired in 2015. That’s up from about 530 five years ago.

In the area of Cassilly Street and Madison Avenue, the number of calls received by police about gunfire doubled in the past five years.

Scott believes some residents are scared to help police because they fear retaliation.

“Not everybody’s going to do it because there’s so many people scared but I’m tired of being scared,” she said.

There are anonymous ways to report crimes to police, Graf said. Such as calling anonymously or submitting anonymous tips online.

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