SPRINGFIELD – The results are in: At its April 7 meeting, Springfield Police Advisory Committee (SPAC) focused on the findings of a public safety survey. It also discussed updates to police leadership, in addition to the agency’s upcoming accreditation.
The report, presented by Springfield Chief of Police Andrew Shearer, outlined the findings of the 2022 Springfield Oregon Public Safety Survey, which was intended to gather input about local law enforcement and public safety concerns. The 2022 Springfield Oregon Public Safety Survey was conducted by Portland State University (PSU) during the winter of 2021, and used both as a random sample and open survey.
“The Community Survey was an important step to really reach out to the community,” said Jessica Crawford, records and communications officer for the Springfield Police Department. “It’s given us important information to provide a foundation for some short-term initiatives as well as future strategic planning opportunities.”
According to the survey results, 85% of community members polled are willing to cooperate with the SPD in basic crime control activities. Additionally, roughly two-thirds of residents polled trust the SPD to make decisions that are right for their community.
“There’s always room to grow in each one of these categories,” Shearer said. “This gives us a baseline that can really help us direct our efforts and advance our vision for the future.”
The SPAC advises the Springfield Police Department on policy, long-range planning and program services. Members are appointed by the mayor and city council, who also provide a councilor as a committee liaison. Committee members Jonathan Hayes, Karla Berg, Teresa Dillon, Adam Jenkins, Jenna McCulley, Eric Adams, Brittney de Alicante, Barry Lind and Michael Bean serve in an advisory capacity for the council and chief of police regarding public safety and neighborhood livability issues, as well as assisting with implementation of adopted long-range plans for police services.
“There is really just so much to get into here,” said Bean, local business representative for SPAC. “I think we’ll be looking into this for a very long time, but the initial stuff looks really good.”
While the results yielded mostly quantitative data, it also identified four key themes observed among respondents who distrust the SPD:
• Poor leadership and culture;
• Reduced availability and enforcement;
• Lack of professionalism; and
• Unequal handling of recent protests.
Some written responses discussed the BLM protests in Thurston, others systemic racism in policing, and others commented on their own personal encounters with the Springfield police department. “There’s definitely an interest to continue and expand our efforts around social disorder,” said Shearer. “That encompasses a wide range of activities and behaviors, but it’s clear that’s something folks really think we should focus on.”
Shearer also presented his plan to comply with House Bill 2162, which created a state commission to set uniform standards of conduct and discipline for law enforcement, and requires each law enforcement agency in the state of Oregon to undergo an external accreditation.
The accreditation, according to Shearer, is an independent confirmation that policies and procedures comply with best practices and professional standards.
The accreditation “also creates a continuous self-assessment of the policies, procedures, and everything that we do, ultimately is going to decrease civil liability, hopefully decrease costly settlements,” Shearer said.
While the accreditation is not due to the state until 2026, Shearer stressed the importance of getting it early.
“We’re not going to wait till the 11th hour to start this,” he said, adding that the accreditation is slated to begin sometime in the fall of 2022, though no official date has been announced.
The research team will be presenting their findings of the 2022 Springfield Oregon Public Safety Survey on April 27 at 5 p.m. at the Springfield Justice Center, and the public is invited to listen, learn, and continue the discussion.