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Fort Worth’s Gun Unit targets shootings with new approach
Fort Worth, TX
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A two-year-old police unit is rethinking how shooting cases are investigated in Fort Worth, and the results are impressive.

Police Chief Neil Noakes proposed the Gun Violence Unit in February 2021, and the unit was created with six detectives. That year, the unit responded to 262 calls.

Objectives of the Gun Violence Unit:

  • Investigate nonfatal shootings in the same way homicides are investigated.
  • Take weapons used in criminal offenses off the streets.
  • Arrest violent offenders who commit offenses with weapons.

The unit’s goal is to identify and apprehend offenders, but also to understand how and why these shootings occur. All shooting cases are thoroughly investigated, even if the victim is not willing to cooperate or chooses not to pursue criminal charges.

What they’re saying: “Understanding why (shootings) are occurring is critical to preventing future shootings,” said FWPD Deputy Chief Mark Barthen. “Data gathered from shootings is analyzed for patterns or trends and shared with our specialized units, who can respond by conducting surveillance and operations specific to these needs.”

By the numbers: In 2023, the unit has 10 detectives and has responded to 345 calls so far. (That’s four times the number of callouts as homicide cases.) There have been 236 weapons recovered, and 446 arrest warrants written for violent offenders.

Clearance rates have jumped 60% to 68% from the previous average of 16% when these types of cases were handled by general assignment detectives.

Data indicate that Stop Six, Las Vegas Trail and the southeast part of Fort Worth consistently have more nonfatal shooting incidents. These areas tend to have:

  • Higher poverty levels.
  • Lower average economic status.
  • More narcotics issues.
  • Gang concerns.
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