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Acoustic gunshot detection systems: a quasi-experimental evaluation in St. Louis, MO

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Abstract

Objectives

The primary aim of this study is to provide an evaluation of St. Louis’ Acoustic Gunshot Detection System’s (AGDS) ability to reduce gun violence.

Methods

The study design is a quasi-experimental longitudinal panel study. We measure a variety of gun-related offenses across multiple treatment and control neighborhoods using a difference-in-difference approach. Because treatment neighborhoods were added to the experiment over time, changing experimental conditions, three separate study periods were examined.

Results

Results indicate AGDS has a mixed relationship to police response time and does not significantly reduce violent crime levels in any of the study periods. We do find consistent and substantial reductions (around 30%) in citizen-initiated calls for service for shots fired, but once new calls for AGDS are added, an overall 80% increase in gunshot responses is found.

Conclusions

Although the study is limited to one city, results indicate AGDS may be of little benefit to police agencies with a pre-existing high call volume. Our results indicate no reductions in serious violent crimes, yet AGDS increases demands on police resources.

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Correspondence to Dennis Mares.

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Appendix

Appendix

Table 4 Neighborhood comparison, treatment, control, and other areas
Table 5 AGDS and arrests in St. Louis and additional cities. Sources: Drange (2016) and Koren (2018)
Fig. 2
figure 2

CCTV (2019) and Violent Crime (2013–2018) Kernel densities. Camera densities are represented blue (least) to purple (most), violent crime densities are represented by green (least) to red (most)

Fig. 3
figure 3

AGDS and citizen-initiated calls for shots fired, all treatment areas (2007–2017). Changes in experimental conditions occurred in August 2008, March 2013, and July 2016 respectively. Left-hand scale denotes counts of calls for service, right-hand scale denotes percent AGDS

Fig. 4
figure 4

Changes in police response times (in minutes) in treatment areas, citizen-initiated shots fired (SHOTS) and AGDS

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Mares, D., Blackburn, E. Acoustic gunshot detection systems: a quasi-experimental evaluation in St. Louis, MO. J Exp Criminol 17, 193–215 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11292-019-09405-x

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