SPRINGFIELD — Teamwork is paying major dividend’s in Springfield’s fight against crime.
According to SafeWise’s sixth annual Safest Cities in Georgia study, Springfield ranks 30th.
“We are here for the citizens,” Sgt. James Woodcock said. “We can’t do anything without their help and that’s the reason that we are like we are. I tell everybody that we hire during their interview that, ‘You have to be family oriented and you genuinely have to want to help the public.’
“Anytime that we see that isn’t (an officer’s goal), they probably won’t be in Springfield very long because we are here for the people.”
Springfield’s officers, led by Chief Paul Wynn, strive to gain the public’s trust.
“If the citizens don’t trust us, they won’t talk to us — and if they don’t talk to us, then we usually can’t do anything,” Woodcock said. “We don’t have a magic wand that we can wave. We have to have their help.”
The Springfield Police Department is fully staffed. It recently added Officers Thomas Ortiz and Kelphie Lundy to fill its ranks.
Ortiz is a recent graduate of the Savannah Technical College Peace Officer Academy.
“He’s doing great,” Woodcock said.
Ortiz benefitted from a program that allowed him to be paid by the Springfield Police Department while enrolled at the college.
“Like when we picked him up, he got paid hourly for every hour that he was in school and he was given a patrol car to drive back and forth,” Woodcock said. “Whenever he was done (with his studies), he automatically had a job. He came over here and started right up.”
In addition to Wynn, Woodcock, Ortiz and Lundy, the Springfield Police Department includes Detective Amelia Smith, Cpl. Nicholas Cavanah, Cpl. Clinton Easton, Officer Mike Adams, Officer Charles Bond, Officer Eric Riner and Officer Ryan Loyd.
Easton and Cavanah were promoted recently.
“They are on opposite shifts,” Woodcock said. “We give them some duties to introduce them to a supervisory role so that they can gradually move into it and understand what we want. The way I look at it is that a leader is really a servant.
“He is there to make sure that everybody is there to do what they are supposed to do but at the same time to make sure that they are the best they can be and to make sure that they have everything they need.”
Smith was recently elevated to detective. Previously, she was an advanced police officer.
“I was the sole detective before then but I am working with her to get her ready,” Woodcock said.
Smith was set to receive training in interviewing children who are victims of egregious crimes but it has been interrupted by COVID-19.
Woodcock anticipates additional promotions within the department soon.
“Chief Wynn is on that,” Woodcock said. “I think everybody can see that — if everything continues the way it is going — Springfield is getting ready to burst.”
Woodcock noted that multiple subdivisions and apartment complexes are under construction in the Springfield Police Department’s jurisdiction.
“That’s the reason for the promotions — to get everybody lined up because of the growth that we see coming,” Woodcock said.
COVID-19 has forced the Springfield Police Department to alter its normal way of operations.
“We’re doing what everybody else is,” Woodcock said. “We are trying not to make as many citizen contacts as we normally would because we don’t want to be the reason to get anybody sick or cause any problems. We are supposed to be the opposite.
“We are supposed to be there to help you so, naturally, we will respond if we are called or see something that needs to be addressed but we are trying to stay away from everybody as much as possible for their safety until this whole thing gets figured out.”
To make up for the reduced interaction with citizens, the Springfield Police Department has doubled its number of neighborhood checks. In addition, officers write reports in visible spots in the city instead of at the office.
See the SafeWise report at https://www.safewise.com/blog/safest-cities-georgia/.