New technology in Springfield will soon help determine where officers patrol

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — City council approved a grant Monday for the Springfield Police Department (SPD) to purchase a software called Risk Terrain Modeling (RMT).

The Federal Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant is $178,469. 60 percent of the grant will go to the city, and 40 percent will go to the county. SPD plans on using it’s portion of the money to purchase RMT, and update technology in its Mobile Community Resource Vehicle and Surveillance cars.

“Chief Williams regularly attends a lot of courses,” Major Stacey Parton said. “This just happened to be one of those opportunities where he was at a location and he happened to talk to vendors and providers of these types of programs.”

RTM helps predict prime locations for a specific criminal activity to occur.

“If you see a playground, children are attracted to a playground because there’s playground equipment and it’s in a nice area that’s conducive of them going and playing,” Parton said. “If you take that same thought process to a criminal element, they’re also going to more associated where crimes will occur.”‘

SPD has a crime scene map people can access, but it believes this software is another way to produce that information.

“We have a very active crime analysis unit here that does look for crime trends and produces that information and gives it to our officers and officers in the area,” Parton said.

The goal is to prevent crime from happening. The department plans to use the reports from the software to determine where to send officers.

“When we don’t have the staffing, if we can better deploy our resources in those areas where we’re identifying criminal trends, maybe we can not only prevent the crime, but we can be there to apprehend them.”

SPD is facing an officer shortage. Queen City Watchdog, a local crime watch group, wants the department to focus on hiring more officers

“I think they should probably focus on recruitment,” President Justin Michael Hasty said. “To me [RTM is] a giant waste of time saying we got this fancy software or fancy data when it’s not necessary.”

SPD has increased wages and requirements to be an officer to attract more applicants. But, there are more officers available to help

“We have the police area representatives so even in times of short staffing we’re staffing all of those positions,” Parton said. “Those officers are not engaged in the call-to-call, in a police car going to next dispatch call for service, those officers are able to meet with neighborhood associations, community groups and talk about crime prevention.”

Hasty suggests looking out for your neighbors, something SPD recommends too.

“When criminals know a neighborhood is being washed and the community is tight net, they tend to avoid those areas,” Hasty said.

“If somebody just takes a few minutes to look and take a picture, take a video, or whatever it might be that gets the person to think twice about committing a crime and leaves that’s ideally what we want,” Parton said.

SPD is also using the grant money to update some features in its Mobile Community Resource Vehicle and Surveillance Vehicles.

“We’re updating all of the equipment that we have inside of the [Mobile Community Resource Vehicle] because it’s stuff from 2003,” Parton said. “There are television monitors that are from the early 2000s. It actually has VHS equipment in there. Surveillance vehicles we use are in fine shape it’s just the technology in it that needs upgrading.”

The RTM software costs about $20,000.

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