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Wilmington sees 12.3% increase in ShotSpotter activations for 2015

March 03, 2016

WILMINGTON -- The Wilmington Police Department saw a 12.3 percent increase in ShotSpotter activations from 2014 to 2015, according to a draft of the department's 2015 annual report.

ShotSpotter is the city's gunfire detection system. Sensors throughout the city's northwestern patrol division alert officials to the location of gunfire. The division includes police department districts 1, 2, 3, 4 and downtown, or roughly an area east of Front Street, west of Kerr Avenue and north of Shipyard Boulevard to the Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway.

The WPD responded to 465 ShotSpotter activations in 2015, up from 414 activations in 2014, data from department's annual report shows.

Throughout the year shootings led to property damage, injuries and death in Wilmington. In August on what was to be her first day of school a young girl was hit in the hand by a stray bullet on Railroad Street. That event was preceded by two homicides the week before, which prompted Police Chief Ralph Evangelous to plead with the community in a news conference, asking residents, "When is enough, enough?"

The year culminated in December with a mass shooting at 11th and Castle streets where five teens were gunned down, one fatally.

According to WPD spokeswoman Cathryn Lindsay, the department is constantly working to find ways to prevent gunfire, including proactive and community policing. But Lindsay said officials still need the community's assistance in gathering information about gunfire after officers arrive.

"When someone goes into a community with a dangerous weapon, shooting into occupied areas where families and children live, we need the community to help us," she said. Lindsay referenced an incident Wednesday in which officers responded to two ShotSpotter activations in the 1500 block of 11th Street. Those residents interviewed were not cooperative with law enforcement, offering little help, she said. 

ShotSpotter, the company providing Wilmington's gunfire detection technology, released its annual report Thursday showing median gunfire activations were down 12.8 percent in 2015 across 46 cities in the United States using ShotSpotter technology. According to the company, 62 cities in the United States use ShotSpotter, but only 46 of those cities had enough data to compare year-to-year statistics.

Of the cities that saw reductions in gunfire, the median decline in activations was 20.1 percent, according to the ShotSpotter report.

Thirty-six cities saw a reduction in gunfire. Wilmington was one of the cities showing an increase.

In the 15 southern cities examined in the report, there was an overall decrease of gunfire per square mile by 2.4 percent. Northeastern cities saw a 27.8 percent decrease, the highest out of any region.

Midwestern states were the only region to see an overall increase in incidents per square mile with a 6.4 percent increase, the report shows.

ShotSpotter also analyzed times and dates for activations, finding 45 percent of all gunfire activations occurred between 9 p.m. and 1 a.m., and 61 percent occurred between 8 p.m. and 2 a.m.

There were 54,699 incidents in 2015 with a total of 165,531 shots in all 62 cities where ShotSpotter is deployed, the report shows.

Star News Online