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Community members concerned about crime in Hawthorn Park neighborhood

Published: Sep. 14, 2021 at 6:33 AM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - A Springfield neighborhood is on high alert after reports of gunfire over the weekend.

Police responded to a shots heard call in the Hawthorn Park neighborhood Sunday morning. That neighborhood is near Market and Madison. Police reports show an officer found several shell casings along with broken glass from a car window. A witness told officers he saw people in two vehicles firing shots at each other.

One homeowner who has lived in the area since 2017 has noticed an increase in crime. She said her husband woke her up when the shots went off leaving her family nervous for the future of the neighborhood.

”We love our house,” said Desiree. “I wish we could pick it up and move it with us, but we can’t. We would love to move in the next couple of years if we could just because of safety.”

When the Hawthorn Park playground equipment caught on fire in April, Desiree has noticed more groups of people hanging out at the park.

A spokesperson with the Springfield-Greene County Park Board said the board is committed to replacing the playground equipment to the park in the future. The board is currently working out the insurance process.

”I don’t want my daughter outside playing with her grandma without me being here,” said Desiree. “That’s something we just talked about. Some strange man pulled up in a white car while I was away for job interviews talking to her grandma. I think he was scoping out the situation and who knows what would have happened. Now they’re not allowed to be outside together if we’re not home.”

Springfield is made up of two zones with four beats in each. Each beat has two officers patrolling. A spokesperson with the police department said the Hawthorn Park beat is in a smaller area compared to other beats, meaning officers are able to patrol the area more frequently.

Another nearby resident named Mary noticed a police presence outside of her home early Sunday morning. She believes a lot of the crime starts at Hawthorn Park because it is not well lit.

”It has its ups and downs,” said Mary. “Sometimes it’s getting better then something like this happens. A lot of the riff raff with the homeless has cut down a lot.”

The park board plans on checking Hawthorn Park to see if any lights need to be replaced. The board said they haven’t noticed an increase in criminal activity or calls for service to their park rangers since the fire in April. They want to remind anyone that if they witness a crime taking place or feel unsafe in the park to call 911.

A spokesperson with SPD said Chief Paul Williams plans on presenting a crime prevention plan to city council at the end of the month along with how to prevent crime during an officer shortage.

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