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The Springfield News-Leader from Springfield, Missouri • Page 3

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Springfield, Missouri
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The News-Leader Monday, July 10, 1995 3A Solving Crime perspectives Police offer two solutions: citizens' help, more money What do you think? Solving crime in the Ozarks Investigators across the Ozarks see crime rates taking on big-city overtones. They share the same problem of understating, or say they will soon. Here's how some of them are coping: Ozark The city may get its second full-time detective next year. Bring him on, says Bill McConnelL who became the city's first and only full-time investigator in 1993. He spends up to .50 hours a week on the job.

With about 800 crimes across his desk so far this year, McConnell focuses on the most solvable. With the others, "I do some follow- up when I can. But when I get a sure thing, that comes first and then everything's on hold. Then after that's completed I go back and start all over again." Can one detective serve this -growing city of 8,500 people? For now, "I manage," McConnell said. In 1993, Ron Davis News-Leader The bottom line: Police and prosecutors can't solve all crimes.

In truth, they solve only a sliver of reported cases in any given year. But there is much you can do as a citizen to combat crime, no matter where you live in the Ozarks: An alert mind can help you become a crime fighter. "People should just be aware," Terry Moore of the Missouri Highway Patrol says. "We need to encourage people to develop the same sixth sense as what typically law enforcement officers are known to have." J. Ron Carrier, an assistant Greene County prosecutor, offers a personal anecdote to illustrate the power of a citizen's eye.

"We had a recent situation in our neighborhood where homes had been broken into. Neighbors in no time were getting together and were able to get information about a certain vehicle that had been suspected. The neighborhood began watching for that vehicle." Some would argue that it's law too, but that doesn't mean we leave it to teachers to educate our kids about everything. This is a cooperative effort. People have to be part of the solution." Springfield Police Chief Lynn Rowe says he needs the community's help through observation and financial support.

"It's a balancing act trying to provide a reasonable level of service based on what the community can afford," Rowe says. "For us to understand and know for sure what the community wants is one thing, but actually having people paying for the service level they desire is yet another issue. "A recent city survey tells us people want more (street) cops, more cops, more cops. But if the council suggested raising taxes for more cops, would people really support it? "Come next year sometime will be the real test. They're talking about a countywide sales tax for law enforcement.

That's when we're going to find out to what extent people are willing to tax themselves." Where do you want to allocate your police resources? Would you rather remove some police from areas such as traffic, patrol, community policing and Drug Abuse Resistance Education and assign more detectives to criminal investigations? CALLIN And would you approve a tax to go specifically to the Criminal Investigations Section? Call 836-1289 or 1-800-695-1736 between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m. today. Or fax your message to 837-1381. Leave your name, its spelling, your hometown and a daytime phone number.

Results will appear in an upcoming News-Leader edition. enforcement's job to look out for crime; people already pay plenty for cops on the street. "The argument I'd give back," Carrier says, "is that we pay a lot of taxes for schools 'i If" 1, 4 A. Crime Caseload swamps fee' 1 1 1 Continued from 1A The city responded. Since 1989, six police academies have provided 61 more officers, when attrition is figured in.

They've gone to patrol, the DARE program, training, traffic everywhere but CIS. Once on the street, these aggressive young hires generate more reports for detectives. Why has CIS been overlooked? "It's not very visible," Rowe said. "And it's not as popular to fund that side of the thing because what the public has demanded is the visible side." What they get in return, but don't see, is an investigations approach that deals only with the most serious crimes or those most easily solved. Detectives who take on tougher crimes can be reprimanded because it means more work, said a former detective who asked not to be named.

Said Huff: "I was getting tired of the caseload and I wasn't seeing us getting many more people." The CIS system "does not allow you to do a thorough investigation. If you try spending time on a case which you should you get way behind." 'All they can do' Success in CIS is measured by the cases a detective has "cleared." The term is used by law agencies across the country to compile crime statistics with the FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting system. But the reporting method can give citizens a false sense of security. A case can be cleared considered solved even when a suspect is known to police but hasn't been arrested, charged or convicted. "Sometimes there's nothing more an investigator can do.

They've done all they can do, said Springfield FBI supervisor Tom DenOuden. If agencies "cleared" cases only when they got convictions, they would have lower clearance rates and larger workloads. So CIS commanders have become more selective about the cases they assign. That's a departure from the past. As recently as 1990, Bob Under News-Leader Springfield Police Detective Doug Thomas reviews the paperwork of his active file after a morning briefing with Sgt.

Dave Smith. Marion Peebles Diane and Marion Paries are mother-daughter amateur sleuths who tracked down thieves when police passed on the case. Daughter Marion's Chrysler LeBaron convertible was vandalized on June 20, 1994, while parked overnight at the South Oak Grove home she shared with her parents. Thieves got more than $1,000 including damage losses, a CD player, discs, two purses and other things. Police rejected the case: No essential clues, and detectives have to be selective about the cases they take there are so many.

Marion Peebles went to work: When businesses questioned her about refused checks passed to them, she questioned them about the culprits. She solved it two weeks later. A pizza place called her about one of her canceled checks bearing the buyer's address. She tracked down the young i suspect, who led her to others. They all confessed and paid restitution.

Says Marion, today: "I think back and wonder, what do police do? They don't investigate car thefts. When they do investigate something, they never solve anything." Terry Moore Nineteen years with the Missouri Highway Patrol has Terry Moore convinced that people want to help battle crime. But in a busy world, some things have to give, and Moore says one of them is public alertness, "Its been my experience that most people are so busy in their lives that they're just not keying in on the unusual things occurring around them. I don't think it's apathy. I don't think it's distrust of law enforcement.

It's just that people are so busy that they're not trying to answer the question: What's wrong with this picture? "People should just be aware of what's going on and take note of unusual situations so that if something does come up, they've got a memory, a vision of something unusual. Then they can give us the information. "They should jot little notes down. That's exactly it, A good portion of the Neighborhood Watch program is based on just that Stay alert and take note." Josv Kvie Ahh, the glamour of detective work. Just ask Joey Kyle.

Three weeks into a six-month tour at Springfield's Criminal Investigations Section, Kyle had spent about half his time chasing convenience store gasoline thieves. It's $2 here, $15 there. But the losses can add up for convenience stores. At least once a day, someone leaves without paying. But is it worth a detective's time? As Springfield investigators struggled to work all the felony crimes, they neglected the misdemeanors.

Kyle was assigned to follow up on these lesser offenses indecent exposure, petty larcenies, simple assaults. "You've got to look at the scope of my cases," Kyle says. not real important But to the people who called them in, they're real important." Kyle's stay in CIS may be shortlived. He doesn't want to make it a career. Detective work, especially the -petty stuff, is glamorous only on TV, he says.

"It's being on the phone two, three, four hours a day, it's being in a car trying to hunt people down, and the rest of the day is spent writing reports." Kyle has worked three exposure cases since he's been in CIS. He solved two of them. The men have dates in municipal court. A judge will decide their fate, which will likely involve a fine, counseling and only maybe some jail time. Ron Davis and Kathleen O'Dell lit WU1U VI ILlfyll JA-J LliUl.

JL solved cases. "But it's dropped considerably with the increase in cases coming through the door." Nixa Police Chief John Burdick reviews da ily crime reports with the help of a sergeant and they decide which cases to assign to their one detective. "If the information is there, we work them," Burdick said. "But we make an attempt to make a phone call (to a victim) even in those cases that we don't have a lot to go on." Violent crimes are rare in Nixa. "Our major crime is stealing right now, often from construction sites." But Burdick says he learned long ago: "There's no such thing as a major crime.

To (everyone) their crime is a major crime. Everyone wants and deserves personal attention. But Fm also a realist and that can't always happen." With a population of 9,200 served by 12 full-time officers, Nixa could use at least two detectives, Burdick said. "Obviously investigations is very important" But "our priority has been in patroL You need the visibility, you need the ability to respond to Republic Don Yates is the lone detective in Republic. "But I don't spend all my time in investigations.

There's times I go to court and Tm on the road a Thf ritv ran't affnrri lmnrips likp a narcotics unit. It doesn't even have a drug officer. Police.Chief Sam Hartzell asks his patrol officers to be investigators as often as they can. "We're pretty burdened," he said. But things have been worse.

Before Yates arrived six years ago, Hartzell wore two hats: chief and chief investigator. Today, citizens debate the need for more than one detective in this town of 8,361. Crime is spotty, but "it's a busy little town," Yates said. "There's a lot of things going on. I think there's probably more going on than we know about." 4h a ureene ucuniy The Sheriffs Department applies a personal touch to cases it can't investigate.

Victimwitness officer David Berg-, land goes to the victims and explains why their crimes can't be worked. He sometimes picks up new leads that way. The downside, said Chief of Detectives Tom Thorson: "It creates more work for us." Six detectives, led by Thorson, typically give a case 30 days before closing, suspending or clearing the crimes. Thorson not only assigns cases, he works the overflow crimes his officers cannot Christian County John Robbins marvels at the Christian CountT crimes that used to make headlines. i "When I first moved here (six years ago), one of the front-page stories was a drunk driver running into a house," said the Sheriff Department's chief investigator.

"I've seen the trend change now to drive-by shootings, rapes and robberies, and murders." There have been three homicides in Christian County in the past year. "You can see where the trend's going." For now. three detectives are enough I to handle the growth of people and crime. Crime "seems like it's doubled in the last year," Robbins said. Enhanced 911 is partly the reason.

Like many law agencies in the area, "We have to prioritize what we invest- i igate," Robbins said. "We're not able to; follow up as much as we'd like to." There's always a need for more wide. Robbins said "Last year, we had two investigators. Now we have three. Next year maybe I can get another one." in time.

"That's the way things are done." Robert Keyes detectives 4 if CIS property crimes unit Richard Stokes is a veteran detective and considered by his peers as a clearance master. "I clear as many of 'em as I can knowing some cases you just have to clear. You know you can't solve 'em," he said. "I don't think it's right." Creativity gets buried Sgt. Smith, who handles crimes against people, reads 30 to 40 police reports a day and assigns about five of them.

Smith knows that CIS has a dismal in-house reputation and worries it may be tough to fill even three new detective spots. Patrol officers realize they would sacrifice overtime, a clothing allowance and a stable regimen on the streets for stress-filled chaos and an intimidating, freestyle work ethic. Most detectives work about 20 cases at once. The creativity crucial to detective work can also get buried in the smothering CIS atmosphere of "so much work, so little time." Compounding that some detectives feel, is the sense prosecutors expect an airtight case. When case reports are kicked back as insufficient, investigations can be shelved.

Consider the case of "Big Al," suspected two years ago of running a high-stakes gambling operation and considered to be linked to drugs and possibly organized crime. A detective confiscated mounds of paper evidence and devoted days trying to pin Big Al (not his real name) to the felony crime. But prosecutors balked, saying they needed a witness or Big Al's confession. The report was sent back to the detective. And despite lists of suspected gamblers who might have given prosecutors what they needed, the investigation died.

not refute that he'd been watering marijuana plants near his eastern Greene County home on the night of the murder. They found bullets buried near his home the same caliber as the slugs that killed Anstutz but they never found the gun. "We had a lot of evidence that didn't come back (conclusive) either way," Smith said. Amy Anstutz's eyewitness account didn't persuade Greene County prosecutors to file a charge. "Identification alone won't stand," Smith said.

The FBI considers eyewitness identification notoriously unreliable: Only about 10 percent of people are able to accurately identify someone by sight alone. With so many other cases pending, Smith investigated the case as time allowed. Now he's back on it: The suspect's time in prison is winding down, and people are getting nervous. Smith wants to give the case renewed publicity, hoping it will draw out the suspect's burglary buddies. "We have to find someone with firsthand knowledge that he was out there that night." I jl it vr irvm-i-.

The crime-fighting process: a closer look HOWYOUR CRIME IS HANDLED If your home is burglarized while you're away, what happens after you call the police? Not as much as you'd think. Investigators allow up to 28 days for this process: Street officer writes report, sends to Criminal Investigations Section, or CIS, A lieutenant reads report, decides whether there are enough leads. In nine of 1 0 cases, the report is marked with a red unsolvable and filed. New evidence could reactivate the file. In one of every 10 cases a lieutenant gives file to a sergeant, who assigns it to an officer to investigate.

The officer contacts you and may visit scene. If leads fall into almost every crime reported to CIS, felonies and misdemeanors alike, was assigned to a detective. "The problem is, they were not being cleared," CIS Capt. Todd Whitson said. Since then, CIS has virtually stopped working misdemeanors, and felony crimes that can be easily solved take priority.

Detectives look for solvability factors such as a witness, a named suspect a license plate, a victim's willingness to prosecute. "The system we use is not unique," Whitson said. "It's a system used by police departments across the country because they're faced with a greater workload than they're able to provide." But some detectives say clearance is a hollow benchmark. "The goal is not just to identify someone, but to get them convicted in court," said Sgt. Bob Greer, who heads the place, the officer may make an arrest.

If there's no arrest, the case is closed. Unless someone confesses, there's little chance the police will ever solve your case. 1994 CASES Springfield police presented cases on 1 ,990 suspects to the Greene County prosecutor's office for the possible filing of felony criminal charges in 1994. Of those: 400 people were charged. fl 1,311 cases were pending.

279 were never charged because of reasons such as lack of evidence, they're civil situations, charges are dropped or victims won't prosecute. The suspect's whereabouts are known. And for reasons outside the control of investigators lack of evidence the suspect cannot be arrested and charged. The FBI's handbook "is the Bible for law enforcement," said Springfield FBI supervisor Tom DenOuden. But officers take little comfort when a case like Anstutz's is cleared.

"It's the peak of frustration," DenOuden said. "It's the psychological baggage that we all carry." Anstutz was shot when he and his wife, Amy, entered their home at 2M6 S. Glenwood Terrace and interrupted a burglar. Sgt. Dave Smith worked what seemed an open-and-shut case: There was one suspect and he was named in the only two anonymous phone tips to police.

Amy Anstutz was standing in the living room with her husband when he was shot. She saw the killer and later picked the suspect out in face-to-face and photo lineups. The suspect surrendered to police a few days after the killing. Then, the case fell apart. The suspect had an alibi, and police could illing 'solved' but never tried Robert Keyes News-Leader Springfield police are sure they know who killed Paul Anstutz.

They are so confident, in fact, that they have cleared the case. Statistically, it's been solved. But the suspect was never arrested or charged in Anstutz's death. The evidence wasn't there. Instead, the man went to prison for an unrelated crime shortly after Anstutz, 26, was shot to death in October 1992.

The inmate is scheduled to be released in a few months. And when he is, detectives worry he'll return to Springfield. The Anstutz case highlights the peril in law enforcement's practice of clearing cases: A crime is considered solved, but the criminal is still out there. The FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting Handbook classifies the case as solved by "exceptional clearance." Here's why: Enough is known to support an arrest and possible prosecution. 4.

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