Student Fellowship

Analyzing the Root Causes of Gun Violence to Create a Starting Point in Combating the Issue

Project Area:

Public Safety


Amarillo, Texas

Reporting to:

Chief of Police

The Challenge

Improving resident safety and addressing root causes of violent crime, especially those involving a firearm, is a key mayoral priority. Per capita, Amarillo has one of the highest rates in the country of gun violence and violent crime. In the annual Amarillo Police Department (APD) Quality of Service survey, the percentage of residents that reported the city does not feel safe increased from 59% in 2019 to 74% in 2020*. To tackle the increase in violent crime, the APD is currently participating in two federally-funded programs that incorporate research, data analysis, and lessons learned from other violent crime reduction initiatives–Project Safe Neighborhoods, which aims to address violent crime through “community engagement, prevention and intervention, focused and strategic enforcement, and accountability” and Project Safety Partnership, which is “designed to promote interagency coordination by leveraging specialized law enforcement expertise with dedicated prosecutorial resources to promote public and community safety.” In addition, the police department has formed a gun violence prevention taskforce, taken a data informed approach, and is working with community partners to inform prevention strategies. City officials are seeking a fellow to help unearth overlooked factors that may be contributing to the persistence in violence and contribute to building out an understanding of root causes to inform strategy.

The fellow will work closely with the Chief of Police and city leadership team to help answer these key questions to inform a data-driven, evidence-based, and community-engaged strategy:

  • What is causing the rise in gun violence? Who is driving the increase? When and where are the incidents concentrated?
  • How are other communities addressing the rise in violent crime?
  • What are the underlying contributing factors that might be driving the rise in violent crime particularly during the pandemic?
  • What steps can city officials take to address the root causes of violent crime?

What You’ll Do

The fellow will:

  • Review and analyze current crime data, including, but not limited to, mapping the occurrence, location, and frequency of violent crime in the city. Review current processes and a template for bi-weekly reporting on gun violence including maps, perpetrator demographics, etc.
  • Interview city staff including city administration, staff, APD detectives and crime analysts, members of task forces including the Amarillo Task Force for Greatness, APD Citizen Advisory Panel, city council, and grassroots organizations currently working closely with the city (including the local NAACP, churches, community leaders, and non-profits), and other community members to understand what might be driving these trends.
  • Conduct peer city research focused on addressing violent crime.
  • Analyze existing crime and other data to surface underlying factors correlated with/that might be causing the rise in crime.

Related deliverables to be defined in concert with the fellow would likely include the following: Analysis and mapping of crime data and recommendations for improvements to bi-weekly reporting process and template; summary of key insights gained from stakeholder interviews and peer city research; a final report that includes an analysis of drivers of violent crime (based on quantitative analysis and qualitative interviews) and recommendations for resource allocation, social service programming, changes to environmental design, and community activities.

What You’ll Bring

The fellow will be expected to possess the following skills: 

  • Data analysis
  • Qualitative interviewing and analysis 
  • Mapping (GIS)
  • Design thinking
  • Interpersonal skills and relationship-building skills


2019 Quality of Service Survey

2020 Quality of Service Survey

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