January 08, 2014

News Release

For Immediate Release

Officials to release Safety & Justice Roundtable four-year report

City and Greene County leaders will release a Safety & Justice Roundtable Report four-year update at the Joint City-County Planning Task Force meeting, 9 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014. The meeting takes place at the Greene County Archives and Elections Center, 1126 Boonville. The update tracks progress since the roundtable group's last report in 2011.

"It is a testament to the hard work and dedication of the many professionals who work in public safety within Greene County and the City of Springfield that significant progress continues to be made in nearly every area studied by the Safety & Justice Roundtable," said Mayor Bob Stephens. "Problems have been resolved in every area under our control where financial resources have been available."

Seven priorities were identified in the original Safety & Justice Roundtable 2009 report:
  1. Solving Police-Fire Pension Fund shortfall
  2. Reducing Jail Population
  3. Improving the Family and Juvenile Justice System
  4. Combining Emergency Response Agency Facilities
  5. Enhancing Data Sharing and Interagency Communication
  6. Increasing Staffing Throughout System
  7. Expanding Facilities

Progress since 2011 has been color-coded green, yellow and red to indicate levels of completion. A few examples are indicated below. The full report is located at www.springfieldmo.gov.

GREEN:

The opening of the Springfield-Greene County Public Safety Center in 2012 showcased the community's collaboration and brought together the offices and functions of the Office of Emergency Management, 911 Emergency Communications and more. The state-of-the-art facility was selected to be the State's back-up emergency operations center in the event of a disaster.

In 2011, Springfield was the first U.S. municipal force to implement the leading police records management system. Greene County Sheriff's Office and the City of Republic were added to the system the following year, improving the ability to track reports, intelligence and evidence more efficiently and across multiple jurisdictions.

YELLOW:

Work still needs to be done in areas deemed "yellow". Those areas include: the solving of the Police-Fire Pension Fund shortfall and a need for increased public safety positions at the City.

Revenue from the sales tax approved in 2009, has allowed the plan to improve from a 35 to 67% funded status as of July 2013. The fact that voters were willing to step up and help solve this funding problem, which also plagues cities across the nation, was highlighted in the Wall Street Journal. This priority remains a "yellow" status, until results of a sales tax renewal coming to voters in April 2014. As discussed at the time the initial sales tax was passed, a renewal is needed to meet the 100% funding level required to sustain the stability of the plan.

RED:

The County's need for additional staffing throughout the criminal justice system received a "red" designation.

Also receiving "red" designation is the need to reduce the jail population, and improving the Family and Juvenile Justice System.

A bright spot, however, in helping to reduce jail population included the Pretrial Services' (PTS) adoption of an objective, validated risk assessment, a best practice based upon Kentucky's successful program. The County is now receiving State and national recognition for its successes in pretrial services. After a successful pilot, use of the risk assessment tool became a regular practice, which has since effected many more releases than before.

The County has also received recognition for outstanding work in Alternative Courts, such as DWI court as well as for initiatives in Juvenile justice.

"While notable progress has been, and is being made, it is essential that providing the resources needed for public safety remains a high priority for the community, if we are to keep pace with public safety needs," said Greene County Sheriff Jim Arnott.

About the Safety & Justice Roundtable

An 18-member citizen task force co-chaired by Robert Spence and Jean Twitty issued findings and outlined recommendations in a 2009 report (pdf), followed by a two-year progress update in 2011 (pdf)

The group was originally convened in 2007 to develop a comprehensive understanding of the community's criminal justice and public safety system, and was asked to identify and prioritize the needs within the system to recommend possible solutions for those needs.

For more information, contact: Cora Scott, Director of Public Information & Civic Engagement, 417-864-1009 (office) | 417-380-3352 (cell), cscott@springfieldmo.gov

city of springfield

Department of Public Information

840 Boonville Avenue • P.O. Box 8368 • Springfield, MO 65801
417-864-1010 • Fax: 417-864-1114 • springfieldmo.gov