Regarding “Crime dropped 17% in 2022 through SPD initiative, chief tells council” [published Jan. 17 on SBJ.net], respectfully, Chief [Paul] Williams’ numbers are skewed, at best. We stopped calling [Springfield Police Department]. And from talking to other business owners and citizens, we’re not the only ones. According to the article, calls went down 10% from 2021-22. But our calls to SPD have gone down nearly 100% – we quit calling because they produce zero results. Maybe the call numbers did go down, but not likely for the stated reasons.
We have six locations in the city limits of Springfield and after years of nonresponse and lax attitudes from the SPD, we simply don’t call anymore. Any vandalism/theft under $5,000, we don’t call. Theft/damage over $10,000, we call SPD for a case number to submit to the insurance company, because I promise you SPD will not come to the crime scene.
The last time SPD showed any interest in what was going on at one of our locations was when SPD sent two officers with sidearms and Kevlar vests to make sure we were shutting down for the coronavirus debacle. Ironically, we had just had a $30,000 piece of machinery stolen at another site, and did SPD show up for that? Of course not. However, they did take the information over the phone, and we got a case number. What’s the harm – insurance paid us back, right? Yes, but we didn’t get replacement value and we had a deductible to pay, too. Then of course our insurance rates went up. Our business insurance and taxes (for police service) go up every year.
We have property crime every single month. We have vagrants causing general disturbances, sleeping on our properties, high/passed out and literally blocking our ability to open a door, stealing copper wire and piping – virtually anything, tearing up doors trying to get in, mangling outside fixtures, etc., looking for something to steal.
We fully support and appreciate the rank and file of SPD. These are good people. They want to do the right thing. But it appears to me that most of the police we see on the street daily feel ineffective, hamstrung and just not accomplishing change from their efforts. It seems that no matter what they do, policies allow the base issues to continue.
To deal with this persistent issue, we have resorted to hiring private security. Our team can call them anytime of the day/night and get a response. We have spent over $22,000 in the past year for private security. Do I think if we paid $22,000 more in city taxes, we would get better policing? I do not. I am confident that if we had a shooting, stabbing or armed robbery at a property, SPD would show up in a hurry. I am thankful for that backup.
But this petty theft problem is not actually petty. It is extra large by my observation. And it isn’t overly complicated. A lot of it is substance abuse. Just do the math. How does an addict with a $300/day habit – with no job – afford that? He steals. Ask the ex-addicts. I have asked them, and this is what they say.
I am certain I’ll be accused of oversimplifying the situation, but this is how I see it. Just please don’t try and convince me crime is actually down.
—Greg Byler of Blue Iguana Car Wash LLC, Springfield
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