U.S. Bureau of Justice Assistance Awards $50,000 to Study Gun Crime

Grant Drawve, associate professor in the Department of Sociology and Criminology
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Grant Drawve, associate professor in the Department of Sociology and Criminology

In 2020, the United States saw an unprecedented increase in homicides, recording 4,901 more than the previous year and topping 20,000 for the first time since 1995. Of those murders, an estimated 77 percent were committed with firearms. Whether 2020 will prove to be an anomaly or an ominous new trend remains to be seen, but the ability to predict, prevent and reduce gun violence is essential to bringing those numbers down.

Grant Drawve, associate professor in the Department of Sociology and Criminology, will receive a little more than $51,000 to analyze gun crime in Chattanooga, Tennessee, as part of a larger $700,000 grant from the Bureau of Justice Assistance to the Chattanooga Police Department. Drawve’s Crime and Security Data Analytics lab, which is part of the U of A’s Terrorism Research Center, promotes multidisciplinary research on crime and security issues through partnerships with private and public agencies and offers training to students in areas and methodologies of crime analysis.

Drawve’s grant is a collaboration with both the Chattanooga Police Department and Rick Dierenfeldt, an assistant professor in the Department of Social, Cultural, and Justice Studies at the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga.

Ultimately, the goal is to better understand where, when and at what frequency gun crime is likely to occur so that an accurate response can be brought to bear. 

“It is great to see Chattanooga Police Department reach out and want to work with researchers,” Drawve said. “With a movement towards more evidence- and data-driven approaches, CPD is taking early steps to understand if what they are implementing is working as desired.”


Chattanooga has averaged about 1,200 “shots fired” calls per year since 2016. With that, about 24 percent of the city's area accounts for around 80 percent of gun violence. To address this issue, the Chattanooga Police Department will be utilizing innovative investigatory techniques around firearms and firearm evidence supported by strategic partnerships with law enforcement and key community stakeholders.

Drawve and Dierenfeldt will analyze data provided by the Chattanooga police covering a broad range of questions, including whether an arrest led to successful prosecution and if timelier evidence gathering and submission leads to more arrests as well as more prosecutions, whether weapons can be linked to other crimes, the when and where of crime patterns, the relationship between offender and victim, and the efficacy of license plate readers.

“One of the toughest things about evaluating police work is understanding when and what was done,” Dawve said. “Our emphasis is on what they are implementing, when and where. So if we know those attributes, then we can assess them. We can get a better idea if it was effective or not. … So if there is more person power in certain neighborhoods, does that lead to more arrests? What are the outcomes of those arrests?”


The center, funded by the U.S. Department of Justice, focuses on analyzing and predicting domestic terrorism and houses several national databases used in predicting and analyzing violence, including the American Terrorism Study Database, the Bias Homicide Database and Human Trafficking Study Database.

About the University of Arkansas: As Arkansas' flagship institution, the U of A provides an internationally competitive education in more than 200 academic programs. Founded in 1871, the U of A contributes more than $2.2 billion to Arkansas’ economy through the teaching of new knowledge and skills, entrepreneurship and job development, discovery through research and creative activity while also providing training for professional disciplines. The Carnegie Foundation classifies the U of A among the top 3% of U.S. colleges and universities with the highest level of research activity. U.S. News & World Report ranks the U of A among the top public universities in the nation. See how the U of A works to build a better world at Arkansas Research News.


Grant Drawve, associate professor
Department of Sociology and Criminology
479-575-7216, drawve@uark.edu

Hardin Young, assistant director of research communications
University Relations
479-575-6850, hyoung@uark.edu


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