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ShotSpotter Blog

A Neighborhood Canvassing Tip that Works

Building Community Outreach – What Happens After a Gunshot?
When a gunshot happens in a neighborhood, what happens next with the police and the community?  In most cases, when law enforcement agencies receive a confirmed gunfire alert, they make an effort to conduct a thorough area canvass for potential witnesses and evidence. This means going out and knocking on the doors of community members in the area. When a witness does talk, officers can gain valuable information and can potentially solve a crime.

Having police officers present in a neighborhood after a shooting incident can promote feelings of safety and good morale among residents. When community members see a police agency conducting a thorough investigation, they begin to understand that the agency truly cares about the well-being of the neighborhood and this builds trust and good engagement.

How to Gain Valuable Witness Information from Residents
When officers go out to a neighborhood, they may not get an answer at the door. Residents either were not at home or they are fearful of being seen speaking to uniformed law enforcement personnel. 

It is important to realize that people in gunfire afflicted areas hear gunshot sounds during all times of the day and night. In many cases gunfire incidents go unreported.

The East Palo Alto (Calif.) Police Department recently created a program to encourage neighborhood residents to provide information to the police about recent shootings in their area. This program included hanging door notices for those residents who did not answer their doors when the agency did their canvass visit.

Door Notice Sample – for Neighborhood Canvassing
The attached door noticed was used by the canvassing officer and then left on the door for the resident to contact the agency if they had any information on the shooting incident. This door hanger is designed so that you can print it with your agency logo and then cut out three from one page to maximize the number of door notices you produce. We encourage you to share this sample with your own law enforcement agency to see how this can work in your neighborhoods after a shooting alert.


February 17, 2015
By: Ed Flosi, Sr. Director, Training & Customer Support