As New Year’s Eve is fast approaching, our ShotSpotter Incident Review Center (IRC) team is busy prepping for one of the busiest nights (and weekend) of the year. Illegal celebratory gunfire happens in many cities across the country and the dangers of celebratory gunfire are real, and can be fatal. What goes up must come down, and the reality is that anyone can be struck by gunfire even during the most innocent celebratory gunfire activity.
Steps to Curtail Celebratory Gunfire
We have found that when law enforcement agencies proactively take steps to curtail illegal celebratory gunfire and educate the community, there has been success in reducing incidents. ShotSpotter experts offer these five proven tips for law enforcement officials to help reduce celebratory gunfire this New Year’s Eve:
1. Start Planning Ahead – Do research in advance to identify hot spot areas and address where celebratory gunfire was detected last year.
2. Communicate and collaborate broadly. In addition to engaging agency personnel, incorporate local prosecutors and local trauma hospital leadership to amplify the danger of celebratory gunfire.
3. Knock on doors – Assign uniformed agency personnel to visit each address on the hot spot list and talk with residents during the days before New Year’s Eve. Take the time to explain the dangers of celebratory gunfire and tell of first-hand tragedies the local agency might have experienced.
4. Enforce consequences of celebratory gunfire – Remind residents of the criminal consequences of celebratory gunfire. (ShotSpotter recommends publicizing and enforcing a strict “no tolerance” policy on this activity and aggressive prosecution of the case.) Use social media to get the word out about the consequences and encourage your community to educate one another about the dangers of illegal celebratory gunfire.
5. Assign special police units – During the New Year’s Eve period assign special police units, or overtime cars, to hot spot areas for quick response to gunfire alerts.
Engaging Your Community:
• Broadly announce your agency’s New Year’s Eve proactive policing plan, using a combination of community meetings, notices, and social media.
• Engage community and community leaders – Make them aware of the dangers of celebratory gunfire and encourage them to report all incidents.
• Encourage media to report about the dangers of celebratory gunfire – Educate readers that law enforcement will take an active role to catch and prosecute celebratory gunfire offenders.
Please be sure to visit our online toolkit for downloadable templates for law enforcement use and additional tools to combat illegal urban gunfire on New Year’s Eve here: