February marked the first time in three years no one was shot in the city of Springfield, Police Chief Paul Williams told City Council members Monday night.
Though short-lived, the statistic represents a break from a trend of increasing gun violence in Springfield. Prior to February, no month in the past three years saw zero gun injuries.
Last year saw crime drop overall but gun violence remain at an all-time high. According to SPD's annual report, there were 356 shots fired in 2022 — a record number for Springfield. There were also 73 gun injuries that year with an average of six gun injuries per month.
Williams said Monday night he hopes the February 2023 respite in gun violence foreshadows an overall decrease.
"The month of February was very positive," he said. "I'm looking back three years here since we didn't have anybody shot in the city of Springfield in an entire month. In the month of February, nobody was shot and we had less shots fired calls. That was really good news."
Unfortunately, March has already seen three shootings occur over one weekend with five people shot.
"The good news on that, if there is good news, is that we solved all those shootings, put three people in jail and no one has died as of this point from those shootings," he added.
Addressing gun violence remains a top priority for the department.
"Gun violence continues to plague Springfield and has remained the number one priority for the Springfield Police Department. In 2022, Springfield surpassed 2021 in the total number of shots fired calls, the number of individuals injured because of shots fired, and the number of illegal guns seized by SPD," reads SPD's annual report released last month.
In the report, SPD stressed the importance of responsible gun ownership for those who own guns legally.
"Citizens owning a legal firearm should take steps to ensure it is secure. Never leave a firearm unattended in a vehicle and store it in a secure place at home.," reads the report.
In his address to City Council, Williams also noted that Springfield has seen zero overdose fatalities in the first two months of the year. So far this year, SPD has only responded to 55 overdoses, which he said is "about half" of the number of calls last year.
We're making some inroads I hope on the holistic approach of looking at addiction and substance abuse and people are paying attention," Williams said.
This article originally appeared on Springfield News-Leader: For first time in three years, no one shot in Springfield in February