Springfield City Council Retreat Session Focuses on Race & Policing Issues

The Springfield City Council held their annual retreat in a different manner on Tuesday, holding a session inside the historic City Hall council chambers. The retreat session focused on issues of race relations in the city and the impact of policing on the community.

A central point of discussion was a survey taken in November 2020 of area residents conducted by Opinion Research Specialists of Springfield. The group mailed 2,000 questionnaires to random households in the city, with 918 surveys either filled out online or returned in the mail. The survey response rate was 24.2% of those whose opinions were sought.

The survey showed a number of responses that caught Council member attention such as:

  • 54 percent of respondents believe downtown Springfield to be unsafe at night;
  • 23 percent of respondents said their own neighborhood was unsafe at night;
  • While 59 percent say overall they feel safe from crime, 48 percent feel unsafe from property crimes like auto theft;
  • 86 percent of residents have a favorable opinion of Springfield Police Officers, and only 12 percent said they believe officers are biased against racial minorities;

Springfield Police Chief Paul Williams reported to Council that everything is on track for SPD officers to have body-worn cameras by the end of January.

He also said the department has been looking at “red flagged” officers who were flagged based on the traffic stops they had made, and that mid-year reviews take place on those officers to look for bias.

Here is the power point slides presented to Council members Tuesday:


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