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Urban Police - Gun Violence

percent officers murder sherman

Gun violence has also become a major concern for police in urban areas. The dramatic rise in the murder rate during the 1980s is generally attributed to changes in the drug market. Furthermore, while the murder rate among offenders over age twenty-five dropped 25 percent between 1990 and 1994, the murder rate among for those age fourteen to seventeen increased 22 percent (Walker). In 1992, the number of handgun crimes increased by about 40 percent compared to the prior five-year period, and handguns were used in about 60 percent of all murders (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 1994).

Confiscating illegal guns through aggressive enforcement was attempted in Kansas City with some positive results. Using methods of directed patrol, an alternative to random patrol where officers are given specific directions to follow regarding enforcement of particular types of persons or crimes, officers focused on confiscating weapons in hot spot areas. The Kansas City Gun Experiment first identified hot spots through computer analyses of calls for service and arrest statistics (Sherman and Rogan). For twenty-nine weeks, four officers focused exclusively on gun detection in the target areas, while other officers were told to focus on this activity when not responding to calls for service. Gun detection was conducted by making traffic and pedestrian stops. During this period, there was a 65 percent increase in gun seizures. In addition, Sherman and Rogan reported a 49 percent decrease in gun-related crime with little or no observable displacement. Citizens in the target areas reported being less fearful and more satisfied with police. Once the experiment ended, however, gun-related crime returned to previous levels. Again, many of the police crackdown techniques showed similar results—effects in the short-term but not in the long-term (Sherman).

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