The number of shootings in Long Beach during the first half of the year declined for the first time since 2018, according to police data analyzed by the Long Beach Post.

Shootings have been rising each year in Long Beach since 2018, when some crime was near record lows, but 2022 is on pace to break that trend, potentially moving away from a major spike in gun violence that hit the area in late 2020 and early 2021.

Data the Post obtained through public records requests show there were 193 shootings during the first half of 2022, dropping from 237 over the same time period last year. Still, the amount of gun violence remains well above average compared to data from before the COVID-19 pandemic.

The spike in shootings was most pronounced at the beginning of 2021 and end of 2020, when the city sometimes saw over 50 shootings per month. Since then, Long Beach has put an emphasis on gun violence prevention programs including initiatives run through the Health Department, after-dark basketball leagues and ramped-up police enforcement.

Deputy Chief Don Mauk has worked with the Long Beach Police Department for 28 years and currently oversees the investigation bureau. He says that one of the initiatives the department has used to combat gun violence is the Neighborhood Walks program.

Through the Neighborhood Walks program, officers patrol certain parts of the city on foot where they make an effort to engage with community members and business owners as a way to build stronger relationships, especially in parts of the city where gun violence is more prominent, Mauk said.

Mauk said he believes that by putting officers in these areas, they’re better able to deter crime and make arrests.

Parts of the city that see a disproportionate number of shootings include the North, West, Central and Downtown areas of Long Beach, although the LBPD says that’s due to them being some of the city’s more densely populated neighborhoods.

The LBPD has also continued to crack down on ghost guns this year, which at the end of March, made up 25% of all guns the LBPD had seized this year.

Homicides in Long Beach more than double during first three months of 2022