ShotSpotter, a policing solution that enables law enforcement to more effectively respond to, investigate and deter crime, reported a dramatic rise of 48 percent in gunshot incidents during 2020 compared with 2019, according to the company’s data that tracks gunfire in more than 100 U.S. cities that use its technology. The increase comes during a year that included a global pandemic, calls for social justice and heightened political divisions.
ShotSpotter gunfire statistics for 2020 showed a spike in gunshot incidents as compared to the prior year in the weeks following George Floyd’s death (May 25). That trend continued during the next four weeks of nationwide protests and, while dropping the last week of June, gunfire levels remained at a significantly higher rate throughout the remainder of the year as compared to the prior year.
When broken down by region, the data reveals a 58 percent increase in gunfire in the Midwest — the region with the highest increase. In other regions, the South had the smallest increase in gunshot events with a 19 percent increase year over year, while the Northeast and West experienced similar surges of 40 percent and 42 percent, respectively, as compared to the prior year. In line with the ShotSpotter data of increased 2020 gunfire rates, independent research group Gun Violence Archive reported a record number of homicides by gun violence this year with more than 19,000 U.S. deaths.
“The startling increase in gunshots and gun violence deaths in 2020 is hopefully an extreme outlier,” said Lynda R. Williams, president of NOBLE (National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives). “We do know that last year was unprecedented due to a global pandemic, social justice protests, a divisive national election and an increase in gun sales. It is our belief that law enforcement agencies and communities can work hand in hand for public health and safety in the new year.”
New Year’s Eve — typically an active night due to celebratory gunfire — saw an upswing this year with the ShotSpotter Incident Review Center (IRC) logging 12,266 gunshot alerts in just 24 hours. In comparison, over the past three years the New Year’s Eve numbers averaged 6,803 ShotSpotter alerts in the same timeframe. The 2021 rate is nearly double the three-year average of 6,803 gunshots and up 36 percent from 2020 when the rate was 9,034.
“Unfortunately turning the page to 2021 will not magically reduce violent crime, but our hope is that the insight that our unique data provides will motivate policy makers and appropriators to invest more resources and tools to help agencies drive violent crime levels down,” said Ralph A. Clark, president and CEO of ShotSpotter. “We look forward to partnering with agencies in this new year to enable them to be more data driven, proactive and efficient in adopting proven precision policing strategies going forward.”