Criminals stay busy

Assaults, batteries, homicides up in Springfield despite pandemic

Assaults, batteries, arson and commercial burglaries are up this year in Springfield, according to an email sent Tuesday to members of the city council by police chief Kenny Winslow.
click to enlarge Police chief Kenny Winslow says police have seen increases in some categories of violent crime.
Police chief Kenny Winslow says police have seen increases in some categories of violent crime.

Overall, the number of crimes that the department reports to the state and federal governments has fallen by seven percent this year, as of Nov. 30, the chief told aldermen. But some categories of crime are on the rise.

Domestic batteries in particular have surged, according to Winslow’s message, from 114 at the end of November last year to 210 at the end of November this year. “We are contributing (sic) this to Covid-19 and people staying at home more,” the chief wrote. Aggravated batteries, also, are up, from 184 to 221.

Homicides have increased, from nine last year to 11 this year, according to Winslow’s message to council members. The chief deemed the increase to be statistically insignificant, although the five-year annual average for homicides is 9.2 per year. Springfield, the chief wrote, has seen between eight and 11 homicides each year over the past five years. June’s tragedy at Bunn-O-Matic, where three people were shot to death, skewed homicide numbers, the chief wrote.

Springfield, the chief says in his email, has seen the same sorts of increases in violent crime as other cities.

“No single reason for these increases have been identified though some have hypothesized that Covid-19 police responses (limiting contact and proactive measures), lockdowns, socioeconomics and unemployment, schools being closed, prisons and jails releasing individuals due to Covid-19, low bonds and no cash bail, probationable gun offenses, civil unrest over the summer and distrust of the police may be contributing factors,” the chief wrote.

The city, the chief wrote, has seen two “rashes of gun violence” in 2020, one in the late spring and summer and the second during the past month. He blamed gang activity and said that the recent arrest of 20 alleged gang members and associates, mostly for drug offenses, shows that the department is “throwing all resources at those we believe to be responsible.”

Arsons have nearly doubled, from 23 as of Nov. 30 last year to 37 as of Nov. 30 this year. While commercial burglaries have risen from 101 at the end of November last year to 154 as of Nov. 30 this year, residential burglaries have fallen from 571 to 434. The chief wrote that the department has been seeing an increase in smash-and-grabs at businesses, with liquor and cigarettes being targets. Shoplifting has been on the wane, with 986 cases as of Nov. 30 compared to 1,393 at the same point last year.

The department has revised crime mapping software that tracks crimes in specific neighborhoods.

Contact Bruce Rushton at

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