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Response efforts ramped up as Madison’s gun crimes decrease

Madison Police Dept. squad car

MADISON (WKOW) -- Madison's police chief says tools from the community, law enforcement stakeholders and technology are being ramped up as he tries to continue a trend of slightly decreasing gun crime in the city.

Chief Shon Barnes Thursday announced shots fired incidents in the city are down 15 percent from last year.

Barnes says from the beginning of 2020 through the summer of that year, there were 192 shots fired incidents responded to by department personnel. Barnes says for the same period this year, the number is 163.

"In some situations shootings are gang related, and others they are the result of road rage. Personal disputes between persons known to each other, intimate acquaintances, strangers, are not related to gang violence or gang membership at all," Barnes says as he describes what's motivating the resort to guns.

"Reports of gun violence affect our communities' fear of crime and directly are related to our legitimacy as a police department," Barnes says.

"We have been working hard as a department to understand this problem. This includes understanding effective measurements, intervention points, and successful prosecution of prolific offenders," Barnes says.

Barnes says an advisory board of stakeholders from the community and the federal, state and local criminal justice system is advising on best approaches and responses to the threat of gun crime in the city. He says the police department's gang unit has added a neighborhood crime-solving focus to target gun crime.

The chief says access to special technology is also a key element to current, gun crime response.

"We've acquired through the generosity of our partners at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, ATF, a ballistic imaging technology known as Niven, the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network. This is the only network that allows for the capture and comparison of ballistic evidence to aid in solving and preventing violent crimes involving firearms. We will be using this technology to compare, trace ballistic evidence in order to link crimes, solve crimes and prosecute to the fully the most prolific offenders," Barnes says.

"We must come together as a community in order to solve this issue. I believe the answer is to create healthier communities."

Barnes says patrol officers are also being deployed in a more strategic way to gun crime hot spots to use foot patrol, distribution of crime prevention information and other tools to de-escalate. Barnes says research shows there's efficacy to this approach to discouraging gun crime if patrols are repeated over time.

The toll of gun crime continues, even with the downward trend. Laisha Cooke says she remains inconsolable over last month's unsolved, fatal shooting of her 20-year-old son, Nick.

"I literally don't know how to cope with losing my son," she says. "I can't even begin to explain how to cope."

"No incident of gun crime is acceptable," Barnes says.

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