Springfield police saw calls increase by 7 percent last , murders down

The Springfield Police Division responded to more than 62,000 calls for service last year, an increase of about 7.5 percent from 2015.

That’s an average of about 170 calls every 24 hours, Springfield Police Chief Steve Moody said at Friday’s City Commission retreat at the City Service Center on Lagonda Avenue.

Moody gave an update on crime at the meeting, including efforts to strength community/police relations. A second retreat meeting was scheduled for Saturday morning but it was postponed to a later date.

Overall crime was down about 10 percent last year, Moody said. Officer-initiated activity also increased by 18 percent, he said.

“They were addressing hot spots through their own initiative,” Moody said.

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There were three murders in Springfield last year, down from 13 in 2015. However, aggravated assault crimes were up 25 percent, he said.

“That’s directly correlated to the gun crime that we see here in the city,” he said.

Robbery was up 12 percent and property crime increased by 9 percent, he said, which is being caused by an epidemic of fentanyl and heroin usage. Officers also responded to more than 350 calls for overdoses last year, up from 300 in 2015.

This year, officers have responded to more than 180 calls for service for overdoses, including 137 in January and 49 this month through Feb. 10, Moody said.

Burglary was down 8 percent, Moody said.

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The police division has been ahead of the curve when it comes to community/police relations happening in other cities, Moody said, because of the relationships it’s created with neighborhood organizations, such as the NAACP, the Peacekeepers and local churches.

The division ended its presence on West State Street/West Johnny Lytle Avenue earlier this year when the Police Substation there closed on Jan. 1 due to the city’s financial struggles. The city asked voters to approve a tax increase that would’ve generated $6.7 million annually for the city’s general fund, but it was rejected at the polls. Springfield will be back on the ballot with a similar tax increase in May.

The substation had three Community Response Team officers last year, who saw their activity increase by 71 percent, Moody said. Two of the officers were recently reassigned to different units due to the closure, Moody said.

“It’s a one-man show right now,” he said.

Many other important long-time initiatives are no longer sustainable due to decreased funding, Moody said, including Bike Camp, Law Camp, active shooter training at schools and businesses, as well as violence in the workplace and women’s self-defense training.

“As it stands right now, we won’t be able to do those programs,” he said.

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The Citizen’s Police Academy is also at-risk, Moody said. It’s had nearly 400 graduates since it began in 2004, he said.

“It most likely won’t occur,” Moody said.

The Citizen’s Police Academy Alumni Association has volunteered more 19,000 hours over the past 10 years, he said.

“To say that they’re frustrated and disappointed is an understatement,” Moody said.

Other special events such as National Night Out, Operation Thanksgiving and Operation Christmas are also at-risk, he said.

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“Our partnerships with the community were put at risk (last November) and could even more so be put at risk for what may or may not happen in May,” Moody said.

During the election, city leaders said up to 10 civilian workers at the police division could be laid off. Springfield recently gave layoff notices to four service clerks who coordinate book-ins at the Clark County Jail, he said.

“It’s going to hamper our efficiency as an organization,” Moody said.

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By the numbers

62,115: Springfield Police Division calls for service in 2016.

7.4: Percentage increase in calls for service from 2015.

3: Murders in Springfield in 2016, down from 13 in 2015.

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