Springfield Police Department creates a separate homicide unit, formerly within violent crime unit

Published: Jun. 9, 2022 at 4:27 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - The Springfield Police Department has a separate unit investigating homicides.

Before this year, all violent crimes were grouped into one unit. The new division is something the department wanted to create earlier but wasn’t able to with staffing shortages.

Captain Tony Vienhage says now that SPD has moved to 12-hour shifts, it opened up the ability to create the homicide unit.

”The complexity of investigations now is so much different with cell phones and social media accounts and that sort of thing, so detectives on the technology side of stuff are having to do a lot more work and be more educated on how to process that,” Captain Vienhage says.

The homicide unit has five detectives and one supervisor.

“It’s a very high-stress position,” Captain Vienhage says. “They’re on call 24/7. They get pulled away from their families all the time.”

With the increasing number of homicides in Springfield over the last few years and violent crime rising, the new unit allows each set of detectives to devote time to the incidents separately.

“As the investigation would continue, they kind of had to take care of all of their other responsibilities,” Captain Vienhage says. “Now, as that case progresses, the sergeant can be more available to help lead it, guide it and be more involved in those decisions.”

In 2020, the department reported 24 homicide incidents. The department considers 17 of those cleared. In 2021, it reported 26 homicide incidents, with 18 of those cleared.

So far in 2022, there have been seven homicide incidents with eight total victims.

Of those seven cases, SPD says three are still under investigation, and no charges have been filed yet.

“That’s the most serious crime that would be investigated in the community, and would really like to see that number stay low,” Captain Vienhage says. “The concerning thing is the uptick in shootings, and shots fired calls. Those are still up, so you kind of tend to believe that would trend together. We’re hoping that doesn’t happen.”

SPD’s special investigations unit has seized more than 100 firearms this year.

Captain Vienhage says the hope is it will help lower violent crime within the community.

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