One community problem that can be addressed through a Community Oriented Policing Service (COPS) program is the tragedy currently plaguing communities throughout the nation: drive-by shootings. This particular criminal incident involves the shooting of a gun from a moving vehicle at a person, building, or other vehicle and while it may not be as common as a shooting involving persons on foot, it almost always involves multiple victims. However detrimental this type of criminal activity is, there has been research conducted into the causes and effects of drive-by shootings and a number of possible strategies have been developed to allow police and community members to deal with it. Using the COPS system, police can respond to the problems involved in drive-by shootings as well as develop effective strategies to reduce the number of incidents.
Drive-by shootings may not be the most dangerous threat to a community, but for those who must endure such activities, they can be acts of random and instantaneous violence that plague their communities. Drive-by shootings are a favorite of gang members as a vehicle allows for an unnoticed approach, protection from return fire, and an effective means of escape. While many drive-by shootings are gang-related, many others are the result of personal incidents between neighbors, family members or even strangers on the road. Unfortunately such incidents as road rage or personal hostility have not been studied as much as gang-related violence involving drive-by shootings and therefore gang-related violence, and the response of the police, is much more understood.
In fact, studies indicate that gang membership may be the primary cause of drive-by shootings, which plague urban areas much more that suburban or rural ones. Membership in a gang places individuals in situations that are far more likely to result in violence; including involvement with guns, drugs, and gang rivalries. Many gang members are motivated to commit drive-by shootings against rival gang members as a desire to demonstrate bravery, loyalty, to promote one's status within the gang, or to retaliate against real or imagined slights. These motivations can be exacerbated by the involvement of drugs or alcohol which studies have demonstrated only increase the possibilities of violent behavior. As many gangs are involved in the illegal drug trade, competition for territory, punishment for wrongs committed, the deterrent for future actions, and revenge all play a part in the motivation for committing drive-by shootings.
But gangs only play a part in the overall problem with drive-by shootings as many are the result of individual incidents involving individual people. In these cases, drive-by shootings can be the result of reactions to disputes among friends or neighbors, the escalation of incidents that occurred in bars, restaurants or some other public place, or even as an extreme form of "road rage." But whatever the cause, the result seems to be the same, someone firing a gun from a moving vehicle into a crowd or building that ends with multiple victims.
As gang activity is the primary source of drive-by shootings in urban communities, police have a number of strategic initiatives at their disposal in order to deal with these types of crimes. Firstly there are a variety of general ideas that the police can undertake such as focusing on the immediate causes of drive-by shootings: vehicles and guns. By decreasing the ease by which vehicles can enter and exit certain high-violence areas and reducing the availability of guns the police can make it more difficult to carry out drive-by shootings. This could include such activities as creating one-way streets or blocking off intersections. The police also need to remain focused on the activity they are combating, not the individuals involved. This allows the public to see the police as fighting an activity that is a threat to the community, not the individuals in their communities which often are minorities. And by gaining a more personal understanding of the individual gangs, their affiliations and rivalries, tensions and individual members the police can understand the dynamics involved in drive-by shootings and react successfully.
Apart from general actions, the police can take specific actions to make their communities safer from the threat of drive-by shootings. In order to reduce the availability of guns the police can make a public show of force by increasing enforcement actions that reduce the number of guns on the streets. Commonly referred to as "directed patrol, saturation patrol, and proactive patrol," this involves flooding an area with police officers in order to carry out as…