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New Year's celebratory gunfire drops by half in West Palm Beach, according to police

Posted at 4:42 PM, Jan 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-03 18:19:28-05

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Thanks to efforts from the West Palm Beach Police Deptartment, city residents rang in 2020 with a significant decrease in celebratory gunfire.

“We understand everyone wants to celebrate and to have a good time, but at the same time, this is all about keeping everybody safe,” Sgt. Dave Lefont said.

According to statistics provided by WPBPD, celebratory gunfire in West Palm dropped by nearly 50 percent. Analysts looked a data from 12:00 p-m December 31, 2018 to 12:00 p-m January 1, 2018. They compared it with data from 12:00 p-m December 31, 2019 to 12:00 p-m January 1, 2020.

Police in West Palm also saw a 60 percent decrease in the number of rounds fired off and 51 percent decrease in the number of locations where gunfire erupted.

Part of the success? ShotSpotter and the department’s Real Time Crime Center helped detectives locate dangerous New Year’s Eve hot spots from years past.

With that info in tow, officers hit the pavement. “We visited every single documented home...and said, ‘We know you are using firearms and we know they are coming from this location,’” said Lefont.

“We also reached out to local media to publish stories that explained that we have the ability to know where these shots are coming from.”

That education seems to have crossed city lines. Riviera Beach Police also saw a 2.5 percent decrease in shots fired over New Year’s Eve, and a 28.6 percent decrease in total rounds, according to their own ShotSpotter records.

Riviera Beach officials were not available for public comment, but quickly provided Contact 5 with documentation through a public records request.

In West Palm, the decrease in gunfire rings true to some good, old-fashioned police work.

“We know that the education part of it worked. We don’t think everyone moved away and then all these new folks moved in,” Lefont told Contact 5’s Merris Badcock. “We’ll be working on that this year as well, and we will have the same plan for next year.”

A Delray Beach woman was struck by a stray bullet during New Year’s Eve celebrations. Delray Beach Police do not currently have ShotSpotter technology, but last summer city leaders discussed buying it.