Phoenix P.D. responds to fewer gunshot calls

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Random gunfire a priority for police

PHOENIX -- Despite a slight increase in gunfire calls over New Year's, Phoenix police say the total number received between 11:30 p.m. and 12:30 a.m. was still down 47 percent from the year before the Shannon's Law operations began.

Five people were arrested this year for violating Shannon's Law, which prohibits firing off a gun in the city.

Each faces the possibility of prison, as well as a fine.

In addition, the Phoenix Police Department has not received any reports of anyone being injured from random gunfire in the city during New Year's Eve.

The law was named for Shannon Smith, a teenager who was killed by a stray bullet in 1999.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Random gunfire priority call for police on New Year's Eve

PHOENIX - Police are not only on the look-out for drunk drivers on New Year's Eve but officers will also be looking for folks ringing in the new year with gunfire.

It happens every year. People celebrate the new year by senselessly shooting into the air and police expect they will be flooded with phone calls.

They are just hoping none of them will involve an innocent person getting hit.

Phoenix police spokesperson Tommy Thompson explains, "Right now we're responding to a priority radio call of shots fired. If we're getting a bunch of calls of shots fired in a different area of the precinct, we're going to change this ops plan."

More than 150 extra officers are working this New Year's Eve patrolling the streets for people shooting into the air. "It would be a perfect night for me if not a single person fired a weapon in the City of Phoenix," Thompson admits.

In one case it was just fireworks. Thompson explains, "It was just some kids with fireworks, no crime, go ahead and clear it."

But in 1999 it was a stray bullet that killed 14-year-old Shannon Smith when someone fired a gun into the air.

Thayne Infanger, with Phoenix police, says, "You fire that round off in the air, it might not come down next to you but two to three miles down the street it might fall down on unsuspecting people."

Police are handing out nearly 40,000 flyers and so far say it seems to be working. "A couple of years ago they used to come out here and shoot a lot of rounds but it's slowed down a lot the last couple of years."

The year Shannon was killed nearly a thousand shots fired calls poured into the police department on New Year's Eve. But since Shannon's Law passed police say the number has gone down 47%.

Infanger explains, "It's the innocent people that die in situations like this and it's not because anybody wanted to commit any harm, they were just trying to have a good time and celebrate the new year and they didn't realize, yeah, it's kind of simple, everything that goes up must come down."

Police are encouraging people to put up the warning signs because they believe education is the key.

Last New Year's Eve Phoenix police tell 3TV they had 350 calls for shots fired.

It is considered a felony and if caught, the shooter can spend up to two years in jail.