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Heard Shots - Call the Police? An Examination of Citizen Responses To Gunfire

NCJ Number
Justice Quarterly Dated: 2020
Beth M. Huebner; Theodore S. Lentz; Joseph A. Schafer
Date Published
9 pages
Using data from an acoustic gunfire detection system (AGDS) in St. Louis, this study examined variation in community rates of calls to the police for gunshots detected.
Many crimes are unreported, obscuring the true scope of crime and effects of criminal justice reform due to limited data. An AGDS broadens the data available and provides a more informed understanding of gun use and violence in communities than is provided by only data on crime reported by victims. The results of the current study provide new insights into the prevalence of gunfire in a high-crime community. It found that community residents were more likely to call the police when the incident was a homicide, and communities with a higher proportion of Black residents were less likely to call 911, net of community disadvantage and violent crime. Policies that encourage community building and improved access to the police and technology are discussed. (publisher abstract modified)