Shotspotter: Gunshot Rates Increased 48% Across U.S. in 2020

The increase comes during a year that included a global pandemic, calls for social justice and heightened political divisions.

NEWARK, Calif. — ShotSpotter (Nasdaq: SSTI) reports a 48% increase in gunshot incidents during 2020 compared with the prior year, according to the company’s data that tracks gunfire in more than 100 U.S. cities that use its gunshot-detection 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 compared to 2019 in the weeks following George Floyd’s death on May 25, 2020. 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 compared to the prior year.

When broken down by region, the data reveals a 58% 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% increase year over year, while the Northeast and West experienced similar surges of 40% and 42% 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.

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 an unprecedented 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% from 2020 when the rate was 9,034.

“The startling increase in gunshots and gun violence deaths in 2020 is hopefully an extreme outlier,” says Lynda Williams, president of National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE). “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.”

ShotSpotter President and CEO Ralph Clark says it is the company’s hope is that the insight that its data provides will motivate policy makers and appropriators to invest more resources and tools to help agencies drive violent crime levels down.

“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,” he adds.

A ShotSpotter National Gunfire Trends graphical chart, illustrating gunfire incidents per square mile per week, 2020 vs. 2019, can be viewed here.

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