Madison has seen a slight decrease in the number of shootings this year compared to last year, but gun violence could still be on the rise in Wisconsin’s capital.

According to Madison Police Department Chief Michael Koval’s blog, from January to September 2018, 144 calls concerning shots fired were received. Last year, there were 167 in the same time frame — about a 14 percent decrease.

MPD spokesman Joel DeSpain was skeptical the decrease was a sign of progress though, and said this is a normal fluctuation.

“I think you need to look at trends over the last couple of years,” DeSpain said.

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According to DeSpain, MPD has even seen an increase in shots fired in the last three years.

In August 2018, MPD received 19 calls reporting shots fired, whereas in August 2017, there were 21, and only 8 in August 2016, DeSpain said.

According to DeSpain, a 100 percent increase was seen between September 2016 and 2017 — with 13 shooting incidents reported in 2016 and 26 reported in 2017.  

“The numbers have gone up and stayed up, even though they go up and down a little bit each month,” DeSpain said.  

Many of these incidents have put uninvolved people at risk of serious injury or death, with some shots hitting cars and many incidents occurring in areas where people go to school, work and live.

DeSpain said young people and widespread accessibility of guns contribute to a large portion of this gun violence.

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“We have a lot of people who don’t see that it is an issue to carry a gun and shoot at people that they’re having problems with,” DeSpain said. “It’s a mentality that started in bigger cities, and it’s unfortunately come to Madison.”

According to DeSpain, MPD is actively pursuing possible solutions to gun violence, including involvement in mentoring programs such as the Boys and Girls Club, as well as cooperation with the school districts, several youth academies and after-school programs.

DeSpain said MPD has also received a federal grant to work with young people and the community on these growing issues.

“We’re working hard to change the mentality, particularly of young people through our gang unit,” DeSpain said. “We work with a lot of different community partners to try to provide hope, guidance and good values and morals for young people.”