On average over the past six years, Springfield police have responded to about 20 to 30 reports of shots fired per month, police spokeswoman Cris Swaters said. Lately, there has been an uptick in those reports, and police are asking the public to provide information to help officers respond to the incidents.
In March, there were 33 reports of shots fired. As of April 26, police had responded to 32 shots fired reports that month, Swaters said. The recent above-average totals have Springfield on pace for a higher-than-normal annual amount of shots fired reports for the second year in a row. Last year, Swaters said, police responded to 294 reports. Typically, police respond to 231 to 260 per year, she said. So far this year, police have responded to a total of 120 shots fired calls. Twenty injuries have been associated with the reports so far this year, she said.
The most recent two weeks of data show the majority of incidents have been reported in north and central areas of Springfield. But Swaters asked for help from residents across the city in responding to a challenging crime to investigate.
“If it’s fireworks or a car backfiring or shots fired — unless you’ve seen it, you don’t know what the sound is,” Swaters said. “But we take all of those calls and all of that information, and that can help officers identify where something is happening.
“We encourage people, if you think you hear something, call it in and don’t assume that someone else is going to call it in.”
Swaters asked the public to let police know if they have doorbell or home security cameras. While officers use footage from traffic cameras and other sources to try to identify suspects in shots fired cases and other incidents, the prevalence of security cameras at businesses and residences can fill in some of those blind spots. Springfield police have set up a camera location registration site that lets police know if your address offers camera footage, so that police can then request access to the video. Swaters said that this can speed up investigation times if officers don’t have to canvas a neighborhood asking if such security footage exists.
“The more information that we can have from the public, the better off our investigators are in trying to figure out what’s going on,” Swaters said.