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Springfield on track for record-breaking homicide rate, police chief says

Published: Jul. 16, 2020 at 4:59 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Police say we’re dangerously close to a mark no one wants to reach in Springfield.

Three times in the last decade, Springfield has set and tied its record homicide numbers, coming in at 16. Now, in 2020?

”We’re on pace to set a record as well,” said Springfield Police Chief Paul Williams.

The city is just one shy of the 16 mark through mid-July. Chief Williams told KY3 the city was actually one below its average of 12 last year.

”What I’ve seen over the last three or four years, and certainly this year with being cooped up it’s even worse, is people resorting to using a firearm to settle a dispute,” Chief Williams said.

Four of Springfield’s homicides this year have made national news. Officer Christopher Walsh and three other people were shot and killed at a Kum & Go on March 16.

Of the others, two happened in the middle of the afternoon on Kearney Street within two months.

”Not nearly at that level that other cities deal with,” Chief Williams said. “But for us, a smaller mid-major city, that’s huge."

There isn’t any one explanation, though. Lawmakers will be back in Jefferson City for a special session in less than two weeks to discuss violent crime rates. Springfield typically averages about 12 homicides a year, and the city has already passed that number

In part, that’s why St. Louis, Columbia, and Kansas City’s mayors met in Springfield last fall to discuss high rates of violent crime. Chief Williams said those goals haven’t been forgotten.

”Those things got lost in the shuffle, I think at the end of the session,” Chief Williams said. “I heard him mention some of those things specifically that we want to try to get done now.”

The police chief said crime numbers across the board appear on the rise, inching toward new records.

”Shooting calls have gone up, the aggravated assaults, the number of shots fired calls have all increased over the last five years,” Chief Williams said. “So, I’d like to reverse that trend and start decreasing those numbers.”

We spoke with Chief Williams on Wednesday, following the governor’s announcement. He said he is for any efforts state politicians make to help reduce those homicide and violent crime numbers.

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