News Release

US Bureau of Justice Assistance awards $50,000 to study gun crime

The award will support data-informed practices to identify predictors and variables related to gun crime in Chattanooga, Tennessee, with an intent to reduce frequency of violence

Grant and Award Announcement

University of Arkansas

Grant Drawve

image: Grant Drawve, associate professor in the Department of Sociology and Criminology view more 

Credit: Whit Pruitt

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.

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