SPRINGFIELD, Mo.- The Springfield Police Department released its 2020 annual report Friday, detailing some high and low moments in the Department.

Read the full report here

According to SPD, some of the highlights include new equipment and new programs, including in-house victim advocates, funding for a body-worn camera program, and the long-anticipated change to the FBI-administered crime reporting system NIBRS (National Incident-Based Reporting System).

In October 2020, Springfield City Council passed the bill unanimously to provide police with body cameras. Officers were fully equipped with body cameras around the end of January.

In April 2020, the Department welcomed new victim advocates. These advocates will assist victims of abuse.

“It’s another tool in our bag for victims, to assist victims, to help folks out there. It’s not something that we’re just going to be just sitting back and waiting for people to contact (us). We’re going to proactively use these victim advocates, and we expect them to contact victims, and get out there and talk to them,” Lt. Wilson told Ozarks First last April.

Another helpful addition to the Springfield community was offering emergency alert stickers to residents who may have specialized needs that could create a barrier to communication. Officers received training on supporting people with invisible disabilities that could be misinterpreted and cause communication hurdles.

“Officers and other first responders need to be as prepared as possible when walking into an emergency situation, and every second matters,” said Police Chief Paul Williams. “The emergency alert stickers will hopefully prevent miscommunication and quickly give officers important information so they can adjust their approach to best serve the specific needs of every individual.”

SPD says 2020 became the deadliest year ever in Springfield history with 28 violent deaths and 29 traffic fatalities. The Department also faced some challenges with the death of Officer Christopher Walsh and the injuring of Officer Mark Priebe.

“Through it all, the men and women who have accepted the call to serve and protect the citizens of Springfield did just that—every day, without fail,” said Police Chief Paul Williams.

2020 was also the year SPD began a new system on crime reporting. The new system, the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS), allows for a more comprehensive look at crime by the numbers.

The report says during 2020, there were 18 homicides involving a firearm and received more shots heard calls compared to shots fired calls in Springfield.