SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (News Release) -- The Springfield Police Department's 2017 crime reporting through the Uniform Crime Report (UCR) has been completed, and the year-end data shows an overall increase in Part 1 crime in Springfield of 4 percent, compared to an 8 percent increase in 2016.
The rate of crimes against persons (homicide, rape, robbery, aggravated assault) overall was nearly stagnant compared to the previous year.
However, the number of reported sexual assaults (rapes) increased significantly in 2017, a 20 percent increase over 2016. A recent analysis of the last three months of 2017 showed 91 percent of reported rapes were committed either during a domestic assault or by a suspect known to the victim. In addition, 21 percent of reported rapes (16) in the fourth quarter involved either a suspect assaulting multiple victims (i.e. members of the offender’s family) or a victim being sexually assaulted by the same offender multiple times (i.e. a domestic violence situation).
“The unusually high number of reported rapes is especially concerning,” said Police Chief Paul Williams. “An extensive review of each and every rape report from 2017 is currently underway to determine if those trends carried throughout the year, or if any other trends can be identified.”
On a positive note, aggravated assaults dropped by just under 1 percent, and robberies dropped by nearly 11 percent. For the first time in several years, domestic assaults – which have strongly driven the number of aggravated assaults upward in the past – accounted for less than half of the total number of aggravated assaults, at 48.5 percent.
The total number of property crimes (stolen vehicles, burglary, theft/larceny) rose by 5 percent in 2017, and increases were felt across the board. The most significant increase was again due to stolen vehicles (19 percent). 321 more vehicles were reported stolen in 2017 than in 2016.
A preliminary review of this data reveals that one-third (about 33 percent) of vehicle thefts are the result of people leaving the keys in the vehicle (including those who have left their vehicle running and unattended). While this is down slightly from 2016, it remains a significant problem for police and the public.
“SPD recovers the vast majority of vehicles stolen in Springfield, but it is a significant drain on police resources to have to address a problem that is 100 percent preventable – by the victims.” said Chief Williams. “Lock your car, take your keys – never leave it running and unattended, even for a moment – and you remove the opportunity for a crime to occur.”
In contrast with these increases, SPD continues to see positive results from a partnership with local Walmart stores aimed at preventing crime. Just 1.6 percent of police calls for service in the City in 2017 were located at Walmart Supercenters--the lowest this rate has been in several years. Compare that to 2016 when 2.3 percent of the total calls Springfield police were dispatched to were at Walmart Supercenters. In addition, thanks to the collaborative effort between management and the police, the stores on N. Kansas Expressway and E. Kearney Street, specifically, experienced a significant decrease in cases of theft (41 percent) between 2016 and 2017.
Now that year-end statistics are being reported to the FBI by those agencies across the country that voluntarily choose to participate in the UCR program, “rankings” may begin to surface on the Internet. According to the FBI, UCR data is only useful for comparing a city to itself, because there are many factors that cause the nature and type of crime to vary from place to place. The FBI outlines the pitfalls to ranking cities in an online document explaining the proper use of UCR data. The FBI’s document includes the following.
UCR data is sometimes used to compile rankings of individual jurisdictions and institutions of higher learning. These incomplete analyses have often created misleading perceptions, which adversely affect geographic entities and their residents. For this reason, the FBI has a long-standing policy against ranking participating law enforcement agencies on the basis of crime data alone. Despite repeated warnings against these practices, some data users continue to challenge and misunderstand this position.
“Unfortunately, there are many third-party websites that supply ‘crime information’ and use a proprietary process to compare or rank cities -- none of which is verifiable or accurate,” said Chief Williams. “The SPD does not provide data to any of them, and the data used is most often a year or two old. The only true, accurate and fair comparison to be done is against ourselves using historical data.”