Tucson sees drop in gun violence following hot-spot policing push

The city of Tucson has seen a drop in gun violence following the implementation of hot-spot policing efforts.
Published: Sep. 5, 2023 at 8:45 PM MST|Updated: Sep. 6, 2023 at 12:37 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (13 News) - Imagine living in a neighborhood beset by gun violence and not having the money to move.

Now imagine gun violence dropping by 75% in only 1 1/2 years. That’s a reality for people living near Grant and Alvernon.

For people living near Campbell and Bilby, that drop was 80% while gun violence dropped 77% for those near Prudence and 22nd.

This story starts three years ago when Tucson’s gun violence was at its peak.

That was when the Tucson Police Department started a program called PNI or Place Network Investigations.

By January 2022, the plan was put into motion.

The concept was developed by a couple of crime statisticians in Cincinnati who found some cities to buy into the concept.

Tucson is one of six cities across America that are using the program with great success.

Las Vegas, Houston, Denver, Philadelphia and Wichita are the others.

But the results in Tucson are being described as nothing short of phenomenal.

“This is all data-driven,” said Chief Kevin Hall, who brought the program to Tucson. “We grided out the city in 500-meter grids and found that these are some of the most violent micro-locations in the city.”

Since 10% of the population commits nearly 60% of the crime, micro-targeting is essential.

But instead of flooding the neighborhoods with police, they took a different approach.

“So it’s not just a city-driven exercise,” said Ward 6 City Council member Steve Kozachik. “This is city staff, this is nonprofits, it’s businesses, it’s residents.”

Add to that property owners and schools, and that’s why the community “is very supportive because they recognize this is a quality-of-life issue,” Kozachik said.

Quality of life for the entire neighborhood because even though the criminal activity may be located in a small area, it spreads out.

“Because it doesn’t just happen at the property, it radiates out from that property as well,” Hall said. “So when we go in and seek to mitigate that property, that’s a beneficial effect to the surrounding area.”

Tucson had tried violence reduction efforts in the past with mixed results. But this new effort is showing promise because the entire surrounding community is involved.

“So we, for instance, can just throw a bunch of cops at a certain area and invariably crime will go down but as soon as the cops leave, crime will go right back up because the networks weren’t disrupted,” Hall said. “Disrupting the networks is what’s key to this.”

Once a criminal enterprise is disrupted, the chances of it coming back will be diminished considerably especially when the community meets regularly to discuss results and what comes next.

Gun violence has become so pervasive that it appears to be everywhere but it’s widely known that certain apartment complexes in Tucson have been havens for crime.

Targeting a complex known for crime, and breaking up the syndicate that operates there, means success can be sustained over time.

The success of Tucson and those other cities may pave the way for a reduction in gun violence nationwide and ease the minds, not only of those living there but of the community at large.

But for those on the front lines of gun violence, it may give them their lives back. They can walk their dog again, walk to the grocery store, or just take a leisurely stroll without worrying about being shot.

“Let’s face it, these are needy locations, they’re vulnerable residents, they don’t have a lot of money, they can’t afford to move, we absolutely don’t want to evict them, so we have to rehabilitate these areas into active, livable spaces,” Hall said.

The Tucson City Council will have discuss the program during its 2 p.m. study session Wednesday, Sept. 6. You can watch the meeting live at https://www.youtube.com/user/CityofTucson.

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