Police step up patrols to prevent celebratory gunfire

Police step up patrols to prevent celebratory gunfire
(Source: WSFA 12 News)

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - The Montgomery Police Department says it will aggressively enforce its zero-tolerance policy on “celebratory gunfire” as residents begin to mark the new year.

MPD said in a statement Tuesday that it’s ramping up its neighborhood blue light patrols, employing a high-tech command center and targeting gunfire ”hot spots”.

“Our message to the community is to find another way to celebrate. Gunfire is dangerous, illegal and can land you in jail,” Police Chief Ernest Finley said, adding that such actions increase the risk of injuries or death, terrify neighborhoods, and cause property damage.

Those arrested under a new ordinance face a $100 fine and seven days in jail for the first offense. Penalties increase to up to $500 in fines and six months in jail for subsequent convictions.

Residents seeking to report celebratory gunfire can use MPD’s non-emergency call line at 334-241-2651 or dial 911.

Montgomery has been plagued by incidents of people shooting guns into the air for years, mostly at the dawn of the new year.

Below is viewer video from the Capitol Heights neighborhood with the sounds of gunfire ushering in 2020.

Video of celebratory NYE gunfire in Montgomery's Capitol Heights neighborhood

Last year, the police department reported a 37 percent jump in “calls for service” from 2018 when it took 823 calls. Some 173 of those calls were for shots fired. Another 18 were calls for fireworks. There were 21 Shotspotter calls for the period, up 250 percent from the previous year when there were just six.

While 2019 saw no injuries from bullets being fired into the air, that hasn’t always been the case. What goes up must come down, and in 2007 one of those bullets fell from the sky and hit 7-year-old Curtis Jackson, Jr in Montgomery’s Gibbs Village. His death remains unsolved.

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