City leaders, law enforcement and a local hospital came together to address a shared public safety concern in Newport News, a mid-sized city that had seen gun violence steadily escalate since 2012. The coalition funded SoundThinking’s ShotSpotter gunshot detection system in 2018 with the goal of reducing shootings by responding to incidents faster and having more accurate information to improve investigations.
After deploying ShotSpotter in mid-2018, law enforcement saw immediate results through the coordination of gunshot alerts with PTZ cameras to quickly and accurately locate and arrest violent suspects, and provide the intelligence to solve crime. To bolster investigations, the agency found ShotSpotter guided officers to the scene precisely and quickly so they could greatly improve evidence collection, particularly shell casings, and were notified of crime scenes they might have otherwise missed. With the addition of a NIBIN machine, investigators could use the new trove of evidence for many more NIBIN hits that yielded an increase in useful case information.
Reduction in Shootings from 2018-2020
Drop in Homicides from 2016-2020
Clearance Rate on Non-Fatal Shootings (Above National Average)
The rate for shootings in the city is already down 15 percent from 2018 to 2020, even with the last year of social unrest and some 50 protests. Officials have found that the existence and awareness of ShotSpotter is a deterrent in and of itself and a positive sign to build trust in the community. Police Chief Steve Drew was quoted in the local newspaper saying, “My hope is we’re sending a message that we do care. It’s sending a message that this is a very serious crime we won’t tolerate.”
Ultimately, ShotSpotter gunfire data enables us to save lives b y rendering aid to victims immediately, improve evidence collection, prosecution and overall police effectiveness.