The Springfield Police Department released its crime report for 2018 on Monday.

The 2018 Uniform Crime Report shows an overall 18 percent decrease in crime compared to 2017.

Reported crimes against persons, which includes homicides, rape, robbery and aggravated assaults dropped by 1.8 percent. However, aggravated assaults alone increased by 4 percent.

Police also saw the total number of property crimes, which includes stolen vehicles, burglary and thefts drop over 20 percent in 2018.

(Information provided by the Springfield Police Department)

The Springfield Police Department’s 2018 crime reporting through the Uniform Crime Report (UCR) has been completed. The year-end data shows very positive results, with an overall decrease for Part 1 crime in Springfield of 18.28 percent. Reported crimes against persons (homicide, rape, robbery, aggravated assault) dropped by 1.8 percent, with 40 fewer incidents than in 2017. SPD saw the total number of property crimes (stolen vehicles, burglary, larceny/ theft) drop by 20.8 percent in 2018, with each category noting a decrease in reported crimes from 2017.

The total number of homicides in Springfield went up slightly in 2018 from 14 to 16, but only two deaths were related to domestic violence, a significant decrease from years past.

Aggravated assaults increased by four percent and recent analysis shows much of the increase occurred in December when there was a significant increase in incidents involving multiple (2 or more) victims. That number jumped from nine such reports in December of 2017 to 27 in December of 2018.

“Unfortunately as 2018 came to a close we experienced a spike in aggravated assaults being reported,” said Police Chief Paul Williams. “However, In the past, a large portion of those crimes were related to domestic violence, but that was only the case with 27 percent of aggravated assaults last year.”

On a positive note, robberies dropped by nearly 23 percent in 2018, and there was a drop in reported sexual assaults (rape) of five percent.

As for property crimes, the most significant decrease was in stolen vehicles, which dropped by more than 25 percent. There were 499 fewer vehicles stolen in 2018 compared to 2017. There was a 21.8 percent decrease in theft (-2,342 including 1206 fewer thefts from vehicles) and an 11.67 percent drop in burglaries (-261) in 2018.

“In addition to targeted enforcement, our community-wide education efforts are bearing fruit. We are seeing the results of people being more vigilant about crime prevention. Citizens are active in neighborhood watch and are taking steps to secure their vehicles by removing their keys, locking the doors, and stowing property out of sight,” said Chief Williams. “We are happy to see this change and we hope it is something that continues.”

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 are 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.”

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