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Operation Echo Stop targets gangs

Jun 30th, 2022

One of the missions of Operation Echo Stop is to eradicate violent crime that has been rapidly emerging in the city. Since March 2022, soon after the initial launch of Operation Echo Stop, Mobile Police have arrested 44 individuals from different gangs throughout Mobile. Unfortunately, 13 of those suspects have already bonded out and are back on the streets.


The occurrence of shots fired and shootings into vehicles and dwellings that we’ve seen over the past few months has been mostly retaliatory in nature. When shootings take on the appearance of gang rivalry, it is something our law enforcement officers, local leaders and community cannot accept.  


“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. Nowadays, it’s more relational,” said Commander Kevin Levy, director of intelligence for the Mobile Police Department and Gulf Coast Technology Center.


Several violent offenders recently arrested by the Mobile Police Department have self-identified with known gangs tied to the wave of gun violence in the city. Through Operation Echo Stop and the use of intelligence, investigative resources and advanced technology, the Mobile Police Department is now even better equipped to crack down on gun violence. That means targeting the shooters directly.


Taking firearms off the street is another top mission of Operation Echo Stop. The MPD Intelligence Unit has recovered 14 firearms in the past three months.


“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.”


Operation Echo Stop has four phases aimed at impeding this sort of violence. Phase One, which is now completed, consists of focuses on prevention, deterrence, compliance, and detection. It includes a greater emphasis on community outreach and engagement, such as the addition of a Youth Violence Prevention Coordinator and the ongoing “Community Days” events happening throughout the city.

Phase Two, which is in development, includes the deployment of new strategies and the rollout of new and emerging technology such as the gunshot detection system “ShotSpotter.” Going live at the end of June, ShotSpotter technology is designed to help law enforcement identify, locate and ultimately deter gun violence. The gunshot detection system will begin in a small area of the city before expanding.


Once operational, real-time alerts will notify police precisely when and where gun incidents occur, resulting in a faster, more accurate response to the scene to provide medical attention to gunshot victims, recover evidence and interview witnesses in the area.


“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.”


Battiste explained that police have identified the gangs associated with several recent incidents of gun violence and are tracking their activity. “If you decide to become part of a gang and commit criminal acts, we will come after you,” he added. “We can identify and locate you faster than ever before.”


By September 2022, Phase Three will begin and all the pieces of Operation Echo Stop will be fully operational as community participation, tactics and strategies will be fully deployed.


The funding from the American Rescue Plan (ARP) that helped launch Operation Echo Stop will allow these new initiatives to operate for a period of three years, at which point there will be an evaluation of the programs to see if they should be continued, expanded or redesigned moving forward.