Understanding Your Local Problem
The information provided above is only a generalized description of drive-by shootings. You must combine these basic facts with a more specific understanding of your local problem. Analyzing the local problem carefully will help you design a more effective response strategy.
In addition to criminal justice agencies, the following
groups have an interest in the drive-by shooting problem and should be
considered for the contribution they might make to gathering information about
the problem, and responding to it:
- local hospitals and emergency services;
- city public works agencies (e.g., parking, streets, transportation,
- federal law enforcement agencies (e.g., Drug Enforcement
Administration; Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms);
- probation and parole agencies;
- corrections departments (particularly those with reentry programs
that monitor offenders’ return to the streets and their impact on the
- bar and nightclub owners and managers;
- social service providers;
- gang members and members of other neighborhood “groups”; and
- neighborhood associations.Asking the Right Questions
Asking the Right Questions
The following are some critical questions you should ask when
analyzing your particular problem of drive-by shootings, even if the answers
are not always readily available.†Your answers to these and other questions will help you choose the most
appropriate set of responses later on.
Incidents and Motivations
- How many drive-by shootings have occurred?
- What proportion of the incidents appear to have arisen from
spontaneous arguments or interpersonal conflicts?
- What proportion of the incidents appear to be connected to known
tensions or rivalries among local gangs?
- What proportion of the incidents appear to be drug-related?
- What proportion of the incidents appear to be retaliatory?
- What other motivations for the incidents can you identify?
- Did anyone other than the victim witness the incidents?
- How did you identify the witnesses?
- Of what quality was the information obtained from witnesses? If poor, what interfered with the ability to get useful information from them?
- What were the characteristics of drive-by shooting victims (e.g.,
gender, age, race, or ethnicity)?
- Did the victims have any connections to or ongoing conflicts with
the offenders? Or did they appear to be innocent bystanders?
- Were the victims gang-affiliated? Were they involved in the drug
trade? Were they armed when the shooting occurred?
- Did the victims or bystanders return fire?
- What were the victims doing just before the shooting? Were they
alone or with others?
- How did the victims arrive at the shooting location?
- Were the victims under the influence of drugs or alcohol during
- What was the extent of the injuries sustained? How quickly was
medical attention obtained?
- What were the characteristics of nonperson targets (e.g., car,
house, other structure)? Why were these targets selected? Where there any
characteristics making them vulnerable to attack?
- What were the offenders’ characteristics (e.g., gender, age, race,
- Did they have previous involvement with the criminal justice
system? Were they currently under some form of criminal justice supervision
that could be leveraged?
- Were the offenders gang-affiliated? Were they involved in the
- Were the offenders under the influence of drugs or alcohol during
- Did they target the victims specifically, or did they select them
- What type of gun was used, and how was it obtained? What happened
to the gun after the shooting?
- Why was the offender carrying the gun at that time?
- What were the reasons offenders offered for owning a gun? Under
what conditions might they be convinced to relinquish them?
- Whose vehicle was used? Was it owned, borrowed, rented, or
- How many other people were in the car during the shooting? What
were their roles in the incident? How did they facilitate or discourage the
offender from shooting?
- Was anyone in the vehicle injured? What was the extent of injury?
How quickly was medical attention obtained?
Locations and Times
- Where do drive-by shootings occur? Are they concentrated in any
- What are these hotspots characteristics? Are they clustered near
main thoroughfares? Businesses (e.g., bars and night clubs)? Other places where
people congregate (e.g., residential parties, liquor stores, illegal gambling
houses)? Do they provide for easy access and escape?
- Are there features of the immediate environment that shield the
offenders from view (e.g., poor lighting, overgrown vegetation) or that
otherwise make the location attractive? Are there any physical barriers at
other locations that appear to prevent the problem?
- Do other types of crime affect the area?
- What times of the day and days of the week do drive-by shootings
- Are there other features of the environment that are connected to
these times and days (e.g., bar closing times)? Which of these could be
- How are intergang tensions currently monitored? Has your
department made any efforts toward mediation? Which of these were successful?
- Are any controllers–i.e., people who could prevent the offenders
from causing harm–available?
- How do bars and nightclubs monitor and try to defuse
interpersonal conflicts on their premises? How could the managers of these
places be engaged?
- Does traffic congestion or the physical condition of roads appear
to contribute to road rage? How could these be modified?
Measuring Your Effectiveness
Measurement allows you to determine to what degree your efforts
have succeeded, and suggests how you might modify your responses if they are
not producing the intended results. You should take measures of your problem before you implement responses, to determine how serious the problem is, and after you implement them, to determine whether they have been effective. All measures
should be taken in both the target area and the surrounding area. For more
detailed guidance on measuring effectiveness, see the Problem-Solving Tools Guide, Assessing Responses to Problems: An Introductory Guide for Police
The following are potentially useful measures of the
effectiveness of responses to drive-by shootings. Process-related measures
identify whether responses have been implemented as designed. These include
- increases in the number of searches for illegal guns conducted in
- increases in the number of guns seized, followed by a reduction
in the number of guns seized;
- increases in the number of intergang disputes that are mediated
and settled without violence;
- reductions in the number of instances in which gun owners rearm
themselves after seizure;
- increases in the number of bars and nightclubs that enact
violence prevention measures;
- improved witness cooperation with investigations of drive-by
- increases in perceptions of safety among residents and local
Outcome-related measures are used to determine whether
responses have reduced the size or scope of the problem. These include
- reductions in the number of drive-by shooting incidents;
- absence of displacement to other locations;
- reductions in the number of victims of drive-by shootings;
- reductions in the number of stationary targets (e.g., structures,
vehicles) damaged by drive-by shootings;
- reductions in the severity of injuries victims sustain; and
- reductions in the number of nonfatal and fatal injuries victims