The Mobile Police Department (MPD) has launched a new program in response to the epidemic of violence that has scourged the city. 

The program, known as Operation Echo Stop, involves intelligence, investigative resources and advanced technology that MPD officials hope will clean up the violent crime in Mobile, which has trended upwards in recent years. It was initially launched earlier this year and has since assisted police in the arrests of 44 individuals, who police say are from multiple gangs.

“It’s a common misconception that gangs are territorial or determined by what street you live on or what side of town you’re from,” said Commander Kevin Levy, director of intelligence for the Mobile Police Department and Gulf Coast Technology Center. “Nowadays, it’s more relational.” 

With a death toll of 51 people, 2021 was Mobile’s bloodiest year. Mobile became the 13th major city in the United States to set a record number for homicides that year. By the end of April 2022, Mobile was already on track to match last year’s record.

According to a press release, the recent shootings have been retaliatory in nature. 

Some of those arrested on charges of violent crimes by the MPD have identified themselves with known gangs, police say. Thirteen of these suspects have been released on bond.

The MPD intelligence unit also recovered 14 firearms in the past three months.

Operation Echo Stop has four phases and is currently in the second phase. Now, MPD officers are rolling out new technology, such as the gunshot detection system known as “ShotSpotter,” which is designed to assist police in identifying, locating and deterring gun violence. 

Police said “ShotSpotter” will begin in a small part of the city, then expand to other areas.

MPD officials hope the third phase will begin by September. By then, all the pieces of Operation Echo Stop will be fully operational.

“The graveyard or jail should not be the only options for a safer community,” Levy said. “If you suspect or know that someone is involved in a gang, call or text 251-404-4066. That one call can help put an end to gun violence and, most importantly, it can save a life.”

“Reducing gun violence and improving the safety of the community is a top priority,” City of Mobile Public Safety Director Lawrence Battiste said. “Although we are addressing the prevalence of gang activity, please understand that police alone can’t prevent every shooting. It takes the community working together to reduce gun violence or the propensity thereof. Too many innocent people have been killed in the line of fire.”

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