Springfield Police Department officer shortages impacting case clearance rates

Published: Jul. 6, 2022 at 8:20 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Officer shortages are continuing to impact the Springfield Police Department and its ability to quickly solve some crimes.

Springfield Police Chief Paul Williams mentioned at the June 27 city council meeting that clearance rates for cases are low, which means they have not been able to make arrests, pursue charges or dismiss as many cases.

”We are shorthanded everywhere and our clearance rates are lower across the board, particularly in aggravated assaults,” Chief Williams says.

Chief Williams says property crimes investigators are the most overwhelmed in terms of case load.

“Of any of our investigators, they have more cases,” Chief Williams says. “It’s hard to follow up on those. It’s least likely to solve them. Nationwide the clearance rates about 15%-17% on property crimes.”

The Springfield Police Department is down 48 sworn officers. So far in 2022, there have been 478 applicants, which has surpassed the goal set earlier this year. Chief Williams is hoping to add 20 recruits for the September police academy.

“I think we’ll exceed that and my stretch goal is 25 in that class in September,” Chief Williams says.

Kyle and Carrie Aho are experiencing this low clearance rate problem firsthand. On Father’s Day, a car ran a stop sign and got into an accident with the Aho’s.

“Carrie and I just assumed that he was going to pull off the side of the road and we would exchange information and everything would be fine,” Kyle Aho says. “Unfortunately, what ended up happening was he drove off and we just followed and that continued for about 20 minutes.”

That’s when the Aho’s called 911 and were told to stop following the man. When officers arrived at their house, Carrie Aho says they were told other crimes would be prioritized.

“He was saying I don’t want to get your hopes up,” Carrie Aho says. “It isn’t his fault and it’s not even the SPD’s fault. It sounds like it’s a staffing problem. He said we’re so understaffed that there’s no way that we can get to any nonviolent crime. We were kinda shocked.”

The damages to their car are estimated to cost more than $2,800. The Aho’s say the bigger concern is the impact to their insurance.

“We’re looking at a $500 deductible and then a hit on our insurance which as you know, we can have to pay for that for five years monthly and it’s not right,” Carrie Aho says. “It’s not fair.”

The Aho’s got a call back from SPD on Wednesday with an update from investigators. Carrie says they’re hoping the man involved in their accident will be caught.

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