Decatur may have turned the corner on reducing gun violence
One shooting is one too many in any city, and Decatur has experienced a surge in gun violence in 2020 and 2021. In 2021, the city had 179 shootings compared to 169 in 2020 and 83 in 2019. A 116% increase in the number of shootings in a two-year period may not be able to be solved overnight, but there has been a noticeable reduction in shootings the last four months. Specifically, the number of shootings in October 2021 – January 2022 (n = 36) is 49% less than in October 2020 – January 2021 (n = 71), and is similar to the number of shootings from October 2019 – January 2020 (n = 31).
I want to thank our Decatur Police officers, community leaders, and citizens for their heroic efforts to help reduce the epidemic of gun violence Decatur has experienced the last two years. Thanks to everyone’s efforts, there are many reasons to predict that the downward trend in gun violence will continue throughout 2022 as community violence intervention programs such as Peace and Youth Summits, youth after-school and employment opportunities, and initiatives by the Decatur Police Department continue and expand.
MORE NEIGHBORHOOD CAMERAS ARE NEEDED
At its August 2, 2021 meeting, the city council consented to using $1.7 million of 2021 ARP funds for public safety initiatives including additional neighborhood cameras (60 cameras cost $165,000 per year). Since the first set of 60 cameras was installed in the first half of 2021, the cameras have proven to be an effective tool in solving crime and may be a deterrent to committing crime. There are still many areas in the city where shootings continue to take place that could benefit from having cameras installed.
The city should move quickly to install these additional cameras. From the time the city council approved the first set of neighborhood cameras on March 15, 2021 it took less than two months to begin installation. It has now been over 6 months since the council consented to the second set of cameras and no additional cameras have been formally approved by the council or installed in the neighborhoods that need them.