WSPD says proactive policing is working

Over the last several weeks, the volume of information released by Willow Springs Police Department for the police blotter has declined significantly. What was formerly more than fifty pages of information has been condensed to just a few pages in recent weeks. Howell County News sat down with Police Chief Wes Ellison and Assistant Chief Alan Lewis last week to find out why. 
The answer is multifaceted, they said, but the biggest reason is that their proactive policing measures have caused a reduction in crime and calls for service. 
“We have noticed a difference in the seriousness of crimes,” Asst. Chief Lewis commented. 
Proactive policing means increased contacts with citizens. Officers on the department are encouraged to actively patrol, to stop and talk to people more, and to take action if anything seems out of place. 
“It’s not just sitting, waiting for a call,” Chief Ellison explained. 
For the last several months, there have been at least two patrol cars on every shift, and this increased presence has helped with reduction in crime in Willow Springs. 
“In the past, everyone knew where that one patrol car was,” he expanded. “Someone would call in a shooting across town [as a red herring], and they could do whatever they wanted.”
An active nuisance enforcement program and the proactive law enforcement measures have seen individuals with frequent police contacts cited over and over. Some have gone to jail, and some have moved.
“Some of our problem children have left the area,” Asst. Chief Lewis went on. 
The city’s problem with homeless individuals has also markedly improved, they said. 
“We tried to get them help,” Asst. Chief Lewis said. 
Members of the department have also recently begun Crisis Intervention Training (CIT), which has been a “wealth of information” that should help to address some of the root causes of criminal behavior, hopefully reducing recidivism rates. 
All these changes – proactive policing, increased staffing numbers, and more intentional training has had a measurable impact on how officers spend their time on duty, and in turn, on the information the department has to release to the public. 
“We have made some great strides,” Asst. Chief Lewis said, “but there will bumps in the road.” 
One of the obstacles to information sharing is that their dedicated department dispatcher only works 40 hours a week. 
“If we had 24-hour dispatch, our stats would be better and our calls for service numbers would go up,” Chief Ellison said.
“The records keeping is not what it could be on minor stuff,” Asst. Chief Lewis agreed.
Like departments nationwide, retention of officers, maintaining competitive pay scales, obtaining more training and updated equipment are daily struggles. 
For now, the department is doing what they can with the staff and resources they have.
“People see the active patrols…The feedback we get is very positive,” said Asst. Chief Lewis. 
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Howell County News

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Willow Springs, MO 65793

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