SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Springfield Police Chief Paul Williams reported crime rates in Springfield are down so far in 2022, except for reports of gunshots and gun confiscations, at the city council meeting Monday.

Several types of crimes have dropped when the numbers of reported incidents from January to May in 2021 are compared to the same period in 2022. These include motor vehicle theft, burglary, aggravated assault, crimes against persons, breaking-and-entering incidents, crimes against property and crimes against society.

Fewer crimes cleared

However, clearance rates for these calls experienced a decrease, Williams reported. In 2021, 46.2% of the 788 aggravated assault offenses reported were cleared. In 2022, there have been 731 aggravated assault offenses reported, with 37.5% of those being cleared. These lower clearance rates are affected by the police department being short-staffed, Williams said.

“The aggravated assault one is what concerns me the most,” Williams said. “That’s violent crime and that’s driven still by the fact that gun violence — shots fired calls — are increasing.”

Shots fired calls

In January 2021, there were 18 reported incidents of shots being fired. In January 2022, there were 28 reports of gunshots. That upward trend has continued every month of 2022 up to May.

In 2021, 150 guns were seized. Year to date in 2022, Williams reported, there have been 115 guns seized, putting the department on track to eclipse 2021’s numbers.

“Proliferation of guns in the city continues to increase,” Williams said.

Fewer burglaries

Williams highlighted the drop in burglaries this year compared to the same period in 2021. In 2021, there were 63 residential burglaries in April, 71 in May, and 32 from June 1-15. There were fewer burglaries for the same periods in 2022: 50 in April, 56 in May, and 27 from June 1-15. Williams said that the drop in burglary rates was a result of intensified policing in highly targeted areas and public service announcements.

Commercial burglaries followed a similar pattern, though there was a small increase with April 2021’s 18 incidents compared to April 2022’s 21.

Fewer auto thefts

Williams said that compared to the first quarter of 2021, which is January through March, the first quarter of 2022 saw a 30% reduction in auto thefts. Out of the 248 vehicles that were stolen in the first quarter of 2022, 180, or 73%, have been recovered. Of those recovered vehicles, 100 were found with keys in the vehicle, and 49 were running unattended.

As of June 1, police began increasing focus on four “hotspot” intersections of criminal traffic activity. Those intersections are Kansas Expressway and Kearney Street, Kearney Street and Glenstone Avenue, Glenstone Avenue and Sunshine Street, and Kansas Expressway and Sunshine Street.

The Springfield Police Department is conducting a recruitment campaign to bring in more active officers. So far, Williams said, the department has exceeded its recruitment goals for the 2022 year.