After the Webinar: Preserving and Enhancing Your Violent Crime Reduction Program. Q&A with the Presenters

Webinar presenters Bob Troyer and Tom Brandon answered a number of your questions after their presentation, Preserving and Enhancing Your Violent Crime Reduction Program in the Era of “De-Funding.”  Here are just a few of their responses.


Audience Question: How can the academic and research community assist law enforcement in working towards achieving some of the goals you talked about today? 

Bob Troyer: Academic and research community is hugely important. All these data, all these stats I’m talking about here. That is having a research partner, whether you’re doing it based on a grant or other funding. Having a research partner from a local university that will have some program and will have researchers and grad students interested in the data about shootings and about criminal behavior that these programs generate. And they love kind of having their way with that data. The key thing, what you can do to help, is if you don’t have this going or your institution doesn’t have a relationship with law enforcement, you could even talk to your university police department and have them make the introduction of the right people. In a police department, you could call the US attorney’s office, the DA’s office and express your interest in getting involved as a research partner. I will tell you that you may have to be aggressive, not so much in getting included on the team, but knowing what’s expected of you, we found in Denver initially, we made some mistakes, honestly, not directing the research partner sufficiently and not including the research partner enough in exactly what we’re learning and what we could do with what we’re learning to get that research partner not just doing what they’re interested in doing from a criminology standpoint, and a research perspective, but generating data that helped refine the Crime Gun Intelligence Center approach, change tactics, adapt to the data that is giving us the knowledge. And so, if you just go in and you’re going to go into a place like that, and they’re going to say, we have this many hits, and this many Shot Spotter alerts, and this many calls, and this many arrests, and this many convictions, and these many people and here’s how old they are. You have to be constantly working. Well, what do we want to learn from this, because just an accumulation of that stuff doesn’t end up being helpful? What ends up being helpful is, hey, can you break this down to show me how soon after a gun, how much time between discharges based on the shell casings we’ve recovered, how did that escalate over time? And how about geographic distance, how far apart are the shootings progressively over time? We’d like to know that for a law enforcement purpose. So, look at the data with that in mind. So, you have to have that kind of collaboration. But, man, you really cannot do this without a research partner, in my view.



Audience Question: Some agencies use a risk-based approach, such as risk terrain modeling, do the analysis, and try to prevent crimes. What’s your take on this? 

Bob Troyer: Tom, what’s your take on risk terrain modeling?

Tom Brandon: One thing. I’ll be honest, I am unfamiliar with the term. Probably not the concept, but at least the terminology, so, I’ll turn it back to you, Bob, if you’re familiar with it.

Bob Troyer: I’m familiar with it, just based on experience out here with one department and my familiarity with it was not positive because I don’t think it was being used properly. So, if used properly, I don’t see why it wouldn’t be a valuable, a very valuable tool, both for the elected officials and for police departments. For example, if used properly, you could say, hey look, the US attorney, and the DA’s office can’t do anything about this, but we’ve noticed that there are three places that are risky terrains around these liquor stores. The City Municipal Code or civil condemnation procedures brought by a city attorney’s office is a way we can clean these things up much more effectively than be chasing around after somebody like David Scott. So, how about we improve the lighting or bring a condemnation Action to do whatever we can do? So, I think the more knowledge, the better, the more data, the better. I think there’s a valuable place for those things.

Host: For the audience member who asked this. I’m going to post a link to the resource page for the webinar, Community Engagement and Crime Prevention with Risk Based Policing: Real Data, Real Results. We had a university professor out of Rutgers out of their crime research center do a presentation back in June, so we’ll provide link to that webinar for you.



Audience Question: Can you share some examples of cities that are doing exactly the process you recommended? So, walking through that PowerPoint, walking through that presentation, what are they doing well and what can we learn from their work? 

Tom Brandon: Hey, Bob, if you don’t mind, I’ll lead off on this and then hand it off to you because when I was in ATF and with my team, we looked for where things were going well, and it was in Denver. And we had, within ATF, the people in the Crime Gun Intelligence Center. And people with Bob, and also the Denver PD. in their lab, and so forth. And that’s where we knew we had to crawl, walk, run, and have some success, and then build it from there. So, Bob, you were there. So, you can comment now, but to answer that question as we look to Denver first, and then we had people go to Denver. We would pay for chiefs to accompany their Special Agent in Charge (SAC), and they’d go out to Denver and get a presentation, and they would duplicate it. Bob, you’re probably there for many of the meetings.

Bob Troyer: Yes, absolutely. And all of these places are a number of places who do this very well and do it slightly differently, depending on their local conditions. But Denver, you know, I am a little biased, but I think Denver is a great place to start. All these Crime Gun Intelligence Centers or programs like this are going to be welcoming and inviting to share their methodologies and their lessons learned. There are a lot of lessons learned that could be a whole different webinar about things you have to do, either when you’re setting it up or as it’s progressing, mistakes you want to make sure you’re not making. And we learned a lot of things the hard way in developing the Denver Model, starting in 2012. Takes time to learn these things, but you absolutely are not going to succeed if you don’t get all the casings from your given area into the lab, one central lab, for NIBIN entry very quickly. The whole thing’s going to fall apart if you have any restrictions on timely delivery and entry of those shell casings. If you have any barriers in place that prevent that, you’re not going to go anywhere and your data is not going to be reliable, and you’re not going to be able to put together these links, but there are a number of things like that are easy to fix, if you come out and see a place like Denver or Philly, New Jersey State Police, phenomenal.

Bob Troyer: And then Bob Tracy Wilmington, Delaware. Houston, Art Acevedo, teaming up with Fred Malinowski down there who is the SAC for ATF. So, I would say, reach out to ATF as they have the current Intel and where they’re doing it to answer that question.



Audience Question: What was the website that you source all of those great statistics? 

Tom Brandon: The National Institute for Criminal Justice Reform. And I have a co-worker that informally passed it to a few professors who do research. They took a glance at it and they thought that the way they [NICJR] came up with their numbers was credible. They didn’t do a deep dive, but they were nice enough to give us their time, so I think it’s compelling.

Host: Fantastic folks, I’ll put a link off to that, that page that Tom just referenced. I’ll put that on the, on the course recording page for this webinar as well, so be looking for that here shortly.



Audience Question: Both of you referenced this quote about data transparency is associated with trust. And we caught part of it is the Johns Hopkins Study, can you be more specific or share with us the link where that really great quote comes from.

Bob Troyer: We can make sure we get it to you. It’s a recent Johns Hopkins study and right up front in this section and there are 10 major findings, which is where they make that statement.



Audience Question: Can you explain the difference between a serial shooter and a mass shooter? 

Bob Troyer:

A mass shooter is staging an event for whatever reason to kill as many people on one event as possible. Serial shooter is simply one of those few people out there in the 2, 3 percent of your criminal population, who’s not just carrying a gun around for just in case. Who doesn’t just have one, because everyone on the street has one. But he pulls the trigger a lot. Tom Brandon always calls these guys the trigger pullers. You’ll find, your data will tell you, as it as across the country, in places that have looked at this, it’s a small percentage of the people who are willing, when someone disses them at the club, in front of their girlfriend, they’re willing to shoot somebody in the face for that. And that’s a serial shooter. David Scott’s a serial shooter. These guys, who are pulling that gun and discharging that gun over minor social disrespect issues instead of using their fists or walking away, or just responding on social media. So, that’s a serial shooter.

Tom Brandon: So, I was just going to mention the term that risk terrain modeling. As I mentioned, I probably wasn’t familiar with the terminology, but once it was explained there, as many anecdotal stories, I [practiced it with ATF and local PD’s and state police that we were working with at the time.


Click Here to Watch a Recording of Preserving and Enhancing Your Violent Crime Reduction Program in the Era of “De-Funding.”  



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