Shotspotter Blog

Field Proven Tips to Successfully Reduce Gunfire

Lieutenant Ryan Hepler of Rocky Mount Police Department joined us on our Tuesday webinar and shared his agencies best practices to reduce gunfire. Lt. Hepler knows first-hand what it’s like to have celebratory gunfire numbers decrease. Over the past few years, he’s watched his illegal celebratory numbers decline and he’s proud of it. In 2014, Rocky Mount had 85 incidents of Celebratory Gunfire that included 398 rounds and in 2015, Rocky Mount PD reported only 14 incidents of gunfire associated with the July 4th holiday.

So what’s the secret for Rocky Mount and Lt. Hepler? How is he doing it? Lt. Hepler says collaboration with officers and police department resources, motivation and follow up with community members are the keys to his success.  Here are some of the tips he provided on the webinar this week and feel free to share these with your own agency resources, partners and friends:

Disseminate Results from Prior Year:
The best way to get your community involved in helping to reduce gunfire is to show them that gunfire actually occurred in their very own neighborhood. One of the best proven field tips to reducing illegal activity is to have your police personnel go to each address on the list where illegal celebratory gunfire occurred and knock on doors explaining that there was celebratory gunfire detected by ShotSpotter last year at that same address. Remind them of the dangers and reinforce a zero tolerance for a repeat incident this year.

Key Tips:

• Get your agency personnel on board to knock on doors
• Explain the prior year’s incident at that address
• Remind resident of dangers in an informative way
• Reinforce zero tolerance, talk about criminal consequences
• Use Social Media to get the word out to your community to educate dangers of celebratory gunfire and share zero tolerance policy

Correlate your illegal gunfire data with known gang activity
Understanding your illegal gunfire data around the holiday is important so that you can use the information you know about existing gang houses and parole houses and get parole officers involved. The more you know, the better.

Key Tips:

• Correlate the gunfire data with gang houses, get gang enforcement units involved
• Assign Special Units assigned to the coverage area to respond to gunfire alerts quickly
• Get Overtime cars lined up
• Use Special ops units during the holiday

Talk to the Media – Announce your Zero Tolerance
Don’t be shy about contacting the media to talk about illegal celebratory gunfire. If you can get them to report about the dangers, this will help to educate the public and show the public that your agency will be watching and will take action to prosecute offenders. Many media outlets will write articles on communities that are taking proactive measures to improve community safety on the 4th of July.

Key Tips:

• Tell your local media that your agency is taking an active role in using ShotSpotter to catch, prosecute offenders of illegal gunfire this year
• Use specific local examples
• Promote your zero tolerance policy if detected
• Use the ShotSpotter advisory templates on our Celebratory Resource page

As Rocky Mount, NC continues to drive their illegal celebratory gunfire down, just remember that your agency can do this too. Following a plan and sticking to it is the first start. For more resources and tips on how to reduce illegal celebratory gunfire, visit our ShotSpotter Celebratory Gunfire resource page here.

June 07, 2016
By: Ed Flosi, Director of Customer Success/Training, SST, Inc.